Last updated: July 18. 2014 1:29PM - 479 Views

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People serving time in jails live a pretty repetitive lifestyle.

They wake up, eat breakfast, shower, exercise and watch television, eat lunch and dinner and bed down for the night.

They wake up and do the same thing over and over again until they’ve served their time.

These people are in jail because they have been convicted of crimes and are being punished for those crimes.

But even though someone commits a crime, in some cases petty offenses, they should be allowed to participate in outdoor activities under secure conditions.

To that end, a program offered by the Simpson County Detention Center that allows female inmates to work outdoors makes a lot of sense.

The jail has a garden program, which allows about eight to 12 low-level charged inmates to plant, take care of and harvest vegetables, including tomatoes, squash, zucchini, watermelon, broccoli, cabbage, eggplants, corn and peppers. They go out a few hours a week with a deputy jailer present. They weed and harvest vegetables and take them back to the kitchen crew to prepare.

The vegetables are served to the entire jail, and if there’s extra, the kitchen crew can create new recipes and serve the dishes to inmates. When they have too many vegetables left over, they are given to inmates at the Allen County Detention Center.

Such a program gives inmates a sense of satisfaction and builds self-esteem. They are also eating healthier, fresher food. It provides the women with a sense of purpose, a chance to breathe fresh air and, in some cases, a work ethic that could benefit them once they are released from jail.

It’s also a good deal for the jail and the community. The 2 acres of land near the community’s park is leased by the jail for $1 from Arney Industrial. The seeds and plants come from J&M Market, which is a partnership with ‘Tis the Season.

Partnerships such as this no doubt save money for Simpson County taxpayers — another plus.

Equally important, though, is the satisfaction these women get out of seeing the seeds they planted, tended and harvested turn into vegetables they can consume.

Inmates with low-level crimes can benefit from programs like these. It’s an impressive program and one that Warren and other area counties should consider.

— The Daily News, Bowling Green

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