Mass. county sheriff's office launches inmate gardening program
The sheriff's office said it recognizes the food service industry as being receptive to employing former offenders
DEDHAM, Mass. — The Norfolk County Sheriff's office has started an organic gardening program, designed to teach inmates of the county jail the basics of gardening to help with future employment.
Through the program, Norfolk County Sheriff Jerry McDermott said inmates will work with staff to transform a section of the county jail's property into a patchwork of gardening boxes that will be used to grow fruits, vegetables and other produce.
The sheriff's office said it recognizes the food service industry as being receptive to employing former offenders, so McDermott has made it a priority of his administration to help prepare inmates for readily available jobs, his office said in a statement.
The introduction of the gardening program is the first step toward the future implementation of a full-scale culinary arts program that will certify offenders in several areas related to food preparation, sanitation, cooking and service.
"The goal is to offer opportunities to help individuals in custody to become more employable and, therefore, better able to take care of themselves and their families upon release," McDermott said in a statement.
The Gardening Certification program will include structured lessons surrounding the basics of organic agriculture, gardening and horticulture. According to McDermott, the certification will make offenders more marketable upon release, which will make them less likely to re-offend.
Horticulture is one of many work training programs also offered by the Massachusetts Department of Correction, which runs the state's prisons. As of February, garden programs are implemented by four correctional facilities throughout the state.
©2020 The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Mass.