By  Star Tribune

Thousands of criminal offenders have turned to community service to work off a fine or jail time, from picking up trash on the highway to mowing parks.

But when Hennepin County probation officers noticed that the labor-intensive full-day jobs weren’t an option for young mothers and women who were pregnant or disabled, they launched an alternative community service program.

The program, now in its third year, gives female offenders a different option: Working afternoons two times a month to make recycled jewelry for Minneapolis nonprofit Grandmother Circles (founded by Lois Mineau, CSJ Consociate) which sends jewelry sales proceeds to Kenyan women.

“They feel very proud of what they’re doing, and isn’t that what we want for community service?” said Michelle Moran, a probation officer who started the program. “You’re more than the worst thing you’ve ever done. We have to engage them.”

Hovering over boxes of colorful beads, the women strung together necklaces this week in preparation for their jewelry sale on Wednesday, Dec. 14, the second one they’ve held.

The program for women is an alternative to the Sentencing to Service (STS) program, itself an option that allows thousands of low-level criminal offenders to avoid jail time.

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February 13th, 2018