Inmates Reduce Sentence by Growing Thriving Gardens for Charity

Inmates Reduce Sentence by Growing Thriving Gardens for Charity

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They may be behind bars, but that doesn’t stop them from helping life thrive outside of them.

Convicts at the Relocation Center Prisons in Brazil are producing 100 pounds of vegetables a year in their facility yard. All the produce is donated to institutions that help vulnerable kids and poorer regions in the south west.

Ever since the program started roughly seven months ago, the surrounding prison yard has changed – a field of trash and bushes has transformed into a luscious garden of veggies. Onions, lettuce, tomatoes, cassava, cabbage, broccoli, and other organic food items are being nursed by the inmates.

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Prisoners work from 8am to 5pm – every three days working in the yard is one less day of their sentence in prison. Each shift is made up of two agents and four low-risk prisoners tending to the gardens.

According to Tatiane Costa, the Director of the prison, the field represents a better future out of their cells. “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”, Mrs. Costa explains to the O Tempo.

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Jefferson Rodrigues de Faria, 27 years old, is one of the inmates approved to work in the yard. Many things changed in Mr. Faria’s life after he started producing food. “I’m much calmer, and I feel a greater sensation of freedom. The cell is depressing, but the field is therapy”, says the inmate.

The project has the support of many partners. The Mayor of Juatuba, a nearby town, lent a tractor for cleaning the field; the mayor of Betim allowed the town’s agronomist to check the health of the crops every month; and Baptist church Betel donated the seeds and necessary supplies while also distributing the harvest.

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