The convicts serving time at the Relocation Center Prisons in Brazil started a program in early 2016 that was aimed at helping children living in poverty.
They started by clearing out an overgrown prison yard that had become a dumping ground for garbage and was covered with large bushes and weeds. They transformed the area into a garden, yielding lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cabbage, broccoli, cassava, and a variety of other foods to be sent to the poorer regions of the country.
Each shift, four low-risk prisoners are allowed to work in the garden from 8am to 5pm, accompanied by two agents. They happily tend the garden, and as one inmate described it, “the cell is depressing, but the field is therapy,” claiming to feel “much calmer, and I feel a greater sensation of freedom.” The chance to work in the garden is seen as a privilege, and every three days spent in the garden means that one day is taken off of their prison sentence.
The prison’s Director, Tatiane Costa, believes that the garden is allowing prisoners to see that there are other ways to live than a life of crime.
Besides punishing, the goal of any prison is to widen the inmates perspectives of what the future holds for them. They have to see a perspective out of here to make sure they won’t come back.” Costa said.
The mayor of a nearby town learned about the prison’s garden and lent a tractor to clean and plow the field. Another nearby town sent their agronomist to monitor the growth of the prison’s produce and help them flourish. Another town donated seeds, and helped distribute the harvest.
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