Prison inmates in Missouri set a new record this year for growing produce for food pantries and other nonprofits across the state.
The Restorative Justice Garden Program oversees gardens at 20 prisons and three probation and parole facilities in Missouri. Department of Corrections Director George Lombardi says inmates grew 163 tons of produce this year, a new record.
"We did our best," Lombardi said, "and when I say 'we,' (it includes) the wardens, their staff, and of course, the hard work of the offenders to make a difference and grow as many vegetables as they could."
Lombardi says the inmates who take part have to volunteer and have good behavior records while incarcerated.
"To inculcate compassion and then altruism, the actual giving of something, to me is tantamount to helping them get healthy psychologically," Lombardi said. "Therefore hopefully, when they are released, that is a quality that now is in their person, which I think is anathema to criminal behavior."
The produce grown each year is donated to local food pantries, shelters, churches, schools and nursing homes.
A full breakdown of each facility's contribution to the Restorative Justice Garden program in 2013 can be found here.
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