AFRICANGLOBE – A garbage collector outside Atlanta has been sentence to 30 days in prison for starting his work too early.
Kevin McGill, 48, who works for Waste Management Inc, took a guilty plea deal after violating an ordinance in Sandy Springs, north of Atlanta, that bans collections before 7am.
He turned 48 on Friday, but reported to a local jail at 6pm after being allowed to serve his time on the weekends so he can still work collecting wealthy residents’ trash so he can support his wife and two children.
The bin collector didn’t have a lawyer when he was sentenced and has filed a motion to withdraw his plea, McGill’s new attorney Kimberly Bandoh told reporters.
However, the Court Chief Solicitor Bill Riley asked for a 30 day sentence for the offense of picking up trash around 5am in the suburb and the judge granted the stiff penalty.
He was sentenced on February 20th at the local courthouse, the running of which has been handed over to private contractors by the city.
There were no real negotiations between her client and Mr Riley when he was sentenced, Ms Bandoh said, adding that the solicitor had claimed the offense meant ‘automatic jail time’.
Mr Riley has stood by the request for jail and says that ‘fines don’t seem to work’ and ‘The only thing that seems to stop the activity is actually going to jail.’
The solicitor said that residents of Sandy Springs, which include professional athletes and executives for Delta Air Lines, begin calling 9-1-1 when they hear early garbage men, according to WSPA.
He said it was the right decision to punish McGill, who had only been on the route for three months, rather than his company, which the city has contracted to pick up its residents’ trash.
The prosecutor said that early garbage collections are a nuisance to residents who want to sleep and that his office had met with Waste Management after previously punishing its employees for violating the ordinance.
A representative for the company went to the courthouse with McGill, who expected to be ordered to pay up to a $1000 fine, Ms Bandoh said.
Marla Prince, a spokesperson for for the company, says that ‘The incident with WM employee Kevin McGill is very unfortunate and we are currently working with WM Legal Counsel to resolve the situation’.
She said she had not heard of a driver going to jail for a similar incident in the firm’s South Atlantic area of Georgia and the Carolinas.
Ms Prince added that Waste Management, which operates throughout the US and reported $14billion in revenue in 2014, would coordinate with its employee about his work schedule and jail time.
Sharon Kraun, a spokesman for Sandy Springs, said that McGill’s citation stemmed from an incident where his truck had been photographed by a resident.
The city had seen a previous case where a garbage man was given jail time several years ago and that while no similar cases had happened since, the collectors had ‘fair warning’, Ms Kraun said.
She said that Waste Management, which had amassed thousands of dollars in fines with the municipality in the last year, suspended McGill for violating its policies before he went to court.
Waste Management could not answer questions about McGill’s employment history with the company as of Saturday morning and said it was ‘currently still investigating all the facts in the case’.
His lawyer questioned the practice of going after trash collectors personally.
‘He’s the employee. He’s not the employer. Sentencing him to jail is doing what?’ Ms Bandoh said.
‘This is the most excessive punishment for an ordinance of this nature I’ve ever seen,’ she said.
McGill had never been to jail or even appeared in the court system, and no other charges factored into the judge’s decision to give him jail time.
He began serving his sentence last weekend for the February 5th citation and will continue losing his free time into the summer.
Ms Bandoh said that the sentence was originally for 30 straight days before someone in the court spoke up and said that McGill should continue working and collecting the suburb’s trash.
‘I just want this to be over with,’ McGill said, adding that he finds it hard to sleep in his hot jail cell.
The worker was also sentenced to six months of probation, when he will pay fees to Sandy Springs, according to Vice.
The suburb has privatized almost all of its city services, including its municipal courts, its communications, parks, economic development and call center operations.
Its website states that ‘this business model fosters a proactive, responsive and efficient approach to providing city services.’
Residents of the area include former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain and rapper Akon, according to the New York Times.
By: Christopher Brennan
Michelle Alexander – The New Jim Crow