Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Some N.J. prisoners covet farm work assignment

At first glance, Jones Farm, set on 250 acres in West Trenton, N.J., seems like any other dairy farm. Workers raise and milk cows on one side of the farm, while, on the other side, the milk is pasteurized and packaged. But then you get a look at the uniforms -- instead of overalls or jeans, these workers are wearing bright orange jumpsuits with "DOC," for Department of Corrections, across the back. The farm is part of AgriIndustries, a six-farm operation owned by the New Jersey DOC used to supply milk to the prison system, and staffed by minimum-security prisoners at the end of their sentence.

It's an unusual situation for many of the prisoners, who often come from urban areas writes Nyier Abdou in The [Newark] Star-Ledger. "I'm from the streets. When I first came here, I said, 'There's no way I'd be on a farm," said Anthony Howlen, 42, of Trenton, who works with the calves at the farm. "And here I am. It's not as bad as I thought."

The work is one of the most desirable in the prison system, but prisoners are often surprised to find how much they enjoy the work. "Aw, man, it's great. I don't miss a day of work, just so I can come out here," said Lopez, who is serving time for burglary and drug possession at Garden State Youth Correctional Facility. "If I have the choice I'll come every day."

"The milk and other AgriIndustries products are sold to 14 state institutions, including Human Services and Military and Veterans Affairs departments and the DOC itself, at a minimal profit," , "saving taxpayers an estimated $1 million a year, according to AgriIndustries administrator Frank Papa. (Read more)

No comments: