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Re: community_garden digest, Vol 1 #390 - 1 msg

Dear Adam,

I do remember the discussion on prison gardens on this list a few months ago - I understand that prisoners forced to work for little or no compensation in agriculture is slavery, rather than a peachy program for prisoner reform and stocking food banks.
Understand that I posted the article because the topic was brought up on the list earlier, not because I advocate forcing people to work for nothing.
When posting the article, I did not make a disowning remark because the article so stressed the volunteer role of the prisoner gardeners.
I did not make a sympathetic comment on the program illustrated in the article because I know (through this list) of exploitative prison agriculture programs, and furthermore, take most of what I read on CNN with a grain of salt.
My point was to bring it to the list's attention and hope that someone would know something about this specific prison garden project. It sounded so positive - I wanted to hear "yes, this is a great program," or "hell no, they got it all wrong, this Boonville prison program mirrors that of Angola, Louisiana."

I was surprised to have gotten lectured on the article posting rather than joining the Peace Corps - I was expecting something more like "well shoot, while she's at it, why doesn't she just join the CIA so she can really promote U.S. imperialism and exploitation in developing countries?" -- along the lines of what I hear most often.

Alright. Back to work with me.
>Message: 1
>From: "Honigman, Adam" <Adam.Honigman@Bowne.com>
>To: "'Emma Eyre'" <emma_eyre@hms.harvard.edu>, community_garden@mallorn.com
>Subject: RE: [cg] Prison garden in Missouri
>Date: Tue, 11 Jul 2000 12:07:09 -0400
>Prison farms are an old story in the USA. The restorative justice spin is
>window dressing for the use of unpaid prison agricultural labor in what has
>come to be known as "The Prison Industrial Complex" . That the food banks
>get fresh food is a splendid end. The means is appalling. This end would be
>better met by free, independant farmers paid a living wage by the
>government. That the unpaid agricultural labor of prison inmates is
>construed by the program directors as a great gift is similar to the
>"Arbeit Macht Zu Frei" ( work makes you free) cast iron signs on the gates
>to Nazi concentration and forced labor camps. Orwell lives.
> The largest and oldest self-sustaining organic prison farm is Louisana's
>Angola Prison (which was designed on the ante-bellum slave plantation
>model.) Angola prison, whose inmates are predominantly African-American,
>and whose sentences are often life imprisonment, can hardly be considered a
>progressive institution. Forced agricultural labor in a chain gang is not
>the model of renewable agriculture that we should foster.

Emma Eyre
Curriculum Coordinator
Division of Medical Sciences
Harvard Medical School
260 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 432-0605

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