Now that spring has come, some of the guys here have had the opportunity to claim a 4-by-10-foot garden plot. There are only 150 spaces available for 2,300 guys and the waitlist spans about two years.
We can plant anything but potatoes, melons, sunflowers, and hot peppers. While most materials are brought in from different seed and plant companies, no seeds were donated this year due to COVID-19. Nonetheless, the gardens are rapidly growing, and it’s a sight to behold.
Since we are not given any gardening tools, the guys here have used everything from an old toothbrush to sticks and stones to make the ground more workable. I once even saw a guy make a cage out of old razor handles so that his tomato vines would have something to climb on.
In the art room, meanwhile, guys are making signs and plaques out of insulation boards. Most are materials used in local offices and schools from the area.
While some might think that people behind the walls are good for nothing, it’s actually the complete opposite. Many people just need someone to believe in them and treat them as an equal.
You might not realize this, but a prison is nothing but another world inside the big world. It has many of the same issues and things that need to be repaired and purchased. The biggest difference is that here we are confined to a 27-acre space with a large fence around it.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. The Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned. The work is lightly edited but has not been otherwise fact-checked.