Instead of a legal blemish on their permanent records, beachgoers cited for non-traffic infractions over the holiday weekend had the chance to serve “instant justice” by picking up trash on San Diego beaches.
“Instant Justice,” an alternative sentencing program offered beach cleanup opportunities to individuals who committed non-traffic infractions or misdemeanors on the July 4 weekend.
But on Tuesday morning, offenders expecting a leisurely stroll along the beach picking up trash were given a new sentence.
They were sent to the streets upon arriving to an already very clean beach.
Due to earlier beach cleaning efforts, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach and Mission Bay Park shorelines were mostly clean as early as 10 a.m.
Surfrider Foundation volunteers helped clean the beach Tuesday morning. Even before they arrived, the beaches were much cleaner than in past years.
This was due to an alcohol ban that took effect in 2008, said Haley Haggerstone, coordinator of the San Diego chapter Surfrider Foundation.
Haggerstone said that although there were still hundreds of pounds of trash to be picked up, the difference in trash between this year’s beaches and the beaches prior to 2008 was “night and day.”
“San Diegans love their beach, and they want to see their shoreline left clean,” she said. “They don’t want it to be trashed.”
The Instant Justice program is run by the Beach Area Community court and Discover Pacific Beach. Participants had to show up Tuesday with $40 cash or cashier's check, valid photo id and their citation.
Iam McShane was caught with an open container of alcohol on the beach this weekend.
"Me and my friend were both extremely excited that we didn't have to come back and go to court here by having this opportunity," Iam McShane said.
About 56 people decided to wear the orange vest and clean up instead of dealing with the court system.
The option seemed to be a win-win situation for the offenders.
"We would have had to come back on a later date," McShane said. "Made a separate trip to come back and go to court here and it would have been a lot more of a fine."
The program went so well Tuesday, the City Attorney's office is thinking about offering it during Labor Day weekend and Spring Break.