This program in a California prison, as reported by the Huffington Post, looks like a winner as gardening has a long history of refocusing criminals from power-over the world to a position of being in power-with the world.
A unique prison rehabilitation program launching in California may be the most powerful interpretation of farm-to-table the state has ever seen.
San Diego’s Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility is building sites for its new Farm and Rehabilitation Meals (FARM) program, a fresh project that hires inmates as farmers, teaches them sustainable agriculture practices and — if approved by prison health authorities — will put the produce on inmates’ cafeteria tables.
The facilities will first accommodate 20 inmate farmers, organizers told The Huffington Post, and will include three acres of farmland on prison grounds, worm castings off-site, a classroom, and raised garden beds accessible to the prison’s relatively large disabled population.
“Within those spaces we’re going to teach community gardening, composting and water-wise gardening,” said Wehtahnah Tucker, the program’s coordinator and a California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) executive. “We’re purchasing a cistern, using gray water and capturing rainwater for use.”
The prison’s health care staff came up with the idea for FARM after noting astounding recidivism rates amongst inmates at similar programs. According to studies conducted at those facilities, Tucker told HuffPost, inmate farmers had prison reentry rates of only 5 to 10 percent — a jaw-dropping figure compared to California’s abysmal 61 percent recidivism rate, one of the highest in the country. Despite the program’s promise, Tucker says these farms are “extremely uncommon” and that she is only familiar with two others in the U.S., one at California’s San Quentin State Prison and one at Rikers Island in New York City.
The first phase of the program costs $4,000 and has been entirely funded by private groups and individuals, all in partnership with Wild Willow Farms, a nearby school for sustainable farming, and the San Diego Community College District, Tucker told HuffPost.
Retrieved June 19, 2014 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/27/california-inmate-farm-program_n_5400670.html