Education and Rehabilitation through Horticulture
The inmates get daily temporary release every morning – Monday to Friday at eight O’Clock and make their own way to our horticultural site some forty minutes’ walk away. They chat while putting on their work-boots as they get ready to begin their day’s work on site. There’s always work to be done; work of all sort, some manual, some delicate but tedious, sometimes working in a poly-tunnel, sometimes working outdoors or in a potting shed – the variety is endless. Horticulture has the great advantage that it offers a great variety of chores to suite all workers.
We work as a team. Before we commence work, we discuss what has to be done, then we prioritise what’s most urgent, divide ourselves into groups and off we go. We take designated breaks and stick fairly rigidly to them and everyone is happy – most of the time.
In inclement weather, we do classroom work. This is mainly the theory of our practical work to date. It all makes sense. We finish every day with a little more knowledge than we had when we started, often with tired bodies and most importantly with a sense of achievement.
These are trusted inmates who are given great freedom – a freedom they always respect as they make their way back to prison at the end of their day. They learn so much; caring for plants, physical work, school work, social skills, fairness, been part of a team. Rehabilitation!
Surely, this is what the end result should be, we have made better citizens of these bunch of guys. Now, let me correct myself as it would be more correct to say that “These guys have made better citizens of themselves” and this I believe is most likely to be the case when inmates are exposed to similar positive experiences.
Mr. Brendan O’Hara,
Teacher of Horticulture
This Article was published in the September issue of the EPEA Newsletter