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Using ag to help prison inmates

Using ag to help prison inmates

A pilot program in Australia matches farmers with offenders

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Farmers in an Australian state are help prison inmates prepare for reintegration into the community.

The Corrective Services department of the New South Wales government recently introduced a pilot program that matches offenders with producers who are facing challenges due to drought.

Program organizers hope that the inmates enjoy working outdoors with the farmers and learn from the opportunity, said Scott Keen, community projects overseer for Corrective Services.

“The more we get (the inmates) out into the community, (the more) they reconnect with the community,” he told ABC News. “Hopefully they don’t reoffend and see a different way of life.”

Farmers welcome the additional sets of hands.

A group of up to eight inmates are helping on Ann Frager’s farm. While she tends to cattle, the others are completing such tasks as building a fence and mowing lawns.

“When you’re hand feeding and looking after stock, maintenance just doesn’t get done,” she told ABC News. “It’s those little things, like the lawn, that you won’t even think about and they’re the last thing you want to do when you get back to the house.”

When Corrective Services contacted Frager about having prisoners on her farm, she was hesitant, she admitted. But now she would “recommend it to anyone.”

The inmates are also seeing the benefits of working with farmers.

Even the brief time spent away from the prison appears to be enough to motivate them to successfully reintegrate into society.

“It motivates you to be a better person and to see things in a different way,” one inmate, who couldn’t be named, told ABC News. “You don’t come to jail because you’re just coming to jail, you did wrong. But you work hard, you motivate yourself, you do programs … and respect the community because, with no respect, you end up back here.”

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