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North Texas Garden Changing Prison Inmates' Lives

Updated: Tuesday, June 17 2014, 12:07 PM CDT

The jail in Hill County, Texas has something most jails don't, a garden. And it's performing better than anyone would have imagined. So far the jail has saved $2,000 in prison grocery costs, it's been able to provide healthy meals for the inmates, and, the garden is also having another unexpected payoff.

The gardeners are prisoners who've committed non-violent crimes.  They've plowed arrow-straight rows.  The inmates are intensely proud of their harvest, and jailers have noticed a change in those inmates. "A lot of change.  The guy we put in charge of the garden, he didn't have a lot of confidence.  He didn't talk too much.  Now he's a totally different person," says Hill County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Rodney Watson.

That gardener Deputy Watson is referring to is 42-year old Scott Pogue, who's been in and out of jail for more than 20 years on drug possession charges. "I've been incarcerated a lot of years and never had the chance, the opportunity to learn new things. I never even imagined doing a garden." Says Pogue.

Pogue was given a gardening book and a chance to change, and he blossomed. "I know now I can be productive in anything I do, except for being locked up.  I've been locked up most of my life," says Pogue.

With his new confidence, Pogue is now headed for a drug treatment program. "Not just a drug treatment program.  It's a program that offers living skills.  I can go and learn a few things. It'll be different.  It's definitely going to be different."

Looks like the money-saving garden may end up as a life-saving garden, too.

North Texas Garden Changing Prison Inmates' Lives


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