Taming the jungle that has claimed Sweet Olive Cemetery

Taming the jungle that has claimed Sweet Olive Cemetery
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Around Halloween, it's not unusual to see yards with fake headstones, sheets made to look like ghosts, maybe a coffin, but there is a small group of men who took some of the horror out of one neighborhood.

It's like a scene from a horror movie; the overgrown lot, the graves, even a man wielding a Bowie knife. But looks can be deceiving.

For the past two weeks, a small group of dedicated men have been taming the jungle that has claimed Sweet Olive Cemetery. Faced with the choice between sitting at home all day or conquering a forest, these men chose to work.

"It helps us realize what we need to do in our real life once we get out again," said one worker.

The men live at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. They are trusties. They say the work, no matter how hard, is better than the alternative.

"To come back to their community and do something in their community that's productive -- it not only does something for the community, but for them," said Warden Dennis Grimes.

"Seeing the years and dates on the graves, it makes us feel god that we can take care of stuff like this. They are historical. It just kind of touches us to clean it up," said one trusty.

"To the people's families, it matters that we are out here."

The fieldwork may be making a difference.

"You think about the people that's here. The lives they've lived. What they've been through and just try to respect them."

State law allows prisoners to do this sort of work for churches and cemeteries.

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