The River Farms program at Indian River County Jail engages female inmates in animal care, farming, and art projects to prevent recidivism.
The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office has implemented an innovative initiative, River Farms, at the Indian River County Jail.
The program is designed to curb recidivism by involving female inmates in ranching and farming activities. Launched less than six months ago, River Farms specifically targets female inmates awaiting sentencing.
Participating inmates engage in a variety of activities, including planting crops and trees, caring for animals, and participating in art projects. The fruits of their labor, both in terms of crops and art creations, are subsequently donated to various community organizations.
Brittany Walker, an inmate actively involved in the program, expressed the positive impact it has had on her. Walker expressed her newfound confidence, acknowledging that her recent experience had expanded her horizons and made her realize that she was capable of anything.
Deputy Lilia Godina, who oversees the program, noted observable improvements in the demeanor and behavior of participants, emphasizing reduced stress levels.
The River Farms program is part of the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office’s broader strategy over the past year to collaborate with nonprofits to address recidivism.
Sheriff Eric Flowers highlighted the program’s financial sustainability, with funds generated by inmates at the Indian River County Jail contributing to its operation, including charges for phone calls or commissary use.
Sheriff Flowers underlined the importance of providing additional opportunities and learning experiences for inmates, particularly those lacking education and skills, to break the cycle of reoffending. The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office office plans to seek grants for its partner nonprofit organizations to expand the overall initiative further.
Additionally, the sheriff mentioned that their typical recidivism rate is around 70 percent, but currently, they have only experienced the return of one individual out of a dozen, which he considers a positive outcome.
In an effort to involve the community, the sheriff’s office is inviting the public to witness the River Farms program firsthand at a barbecue event scheduled for March 6.
Photo by Greta Hoffman : https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-shot-of-a-person-planting-7728932/
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