Regarding the Boonville Prison Garden: I've heard from a few people in the
Justice Department in Missouri that the Boonville project is a fine addition
to the community, the system, and the living conditions for the "volunteer"
growers. We've worked with restorative justice inmates the past two years on
community gardens - I liked every aspect of working with them. People who
are incarcerated, as best and accurately as I can tell, really want to do
something good for the community/victims/themselves - if they buy into this
approach. Pessimism, self-loathing, depression are not strictly inmate
qualities, and gardening has a miraculous way of transforming the spirit.
I'd like to thank you Emma for posting the link, I've wanted to tour the
Boonville facility for a while now, and I've made some inquiries as to where
the inmates who leave Boonville, bound for KC, spend their halfway house
time. I think getting former inmates with gardening experience into our
community gardens in KC is a prime example of determining whether there's
truth to the arguement folks like us make - that gardening can rehabilitate
people and give community members and at-risk people a chance to change
their lives. It's worth a try.
Regarding the Peace Corp subject, I believe that some Peace Corp programs
are problematically aligned with the spread of free markets, for better or
worse. I have also heard that AID also has similar CIA alignment. However, I
recently had the opportunity to meet some Latin American specialists
involved in environmental issues through AID, and considered them great
people, with very non-conventional (especially non-CIA) approaches to
programming in their countries.
The prisoner gardeners as neo-slaves and Peace Corps as CIA puppets are both
examples of our general willingness to think like the most basic and
debiliatating stereotypes allow.
Food Circles Networking Project - Kansas City
University of Missouri Outreach and Extension
2700 E. 18th Street, Suite 240
Kansas City, MO 64127
tel: (816) 482-5888
fax: (816) 482-5880
From: Emma Eyre [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, July 11, 2000 1:14 PM
Subject: [cg] Re: community_garden digest, Vol 1 #390 - 1 msg
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,
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.
>From: "Honigman, Adam" <Adam.Honigman@Bowne.com>
>To: "'Emma Eyre'" <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org
>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.
Division of Medical Sciences
Harvard Medical School
260 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
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