Johnston inmates make productive use of time

September 15, 2013 

Plant a Row for the Hungry is a noble mission indeed, getting community groups to grow produce for the poor and donating their garden’s goodies to soup kitchens and the like. Churches have engaged in fierce competitions for years, but in the past few summers they’ve been challenged by some folks with time on their hands: inmates at Johnston Correctional Institution.

Three years ago, the inmates at the medium security facility off U.S. 70 near Smithfield led all growers in the number of pounds donated. And they’re in it to win it every year.

Inmates can do other things with their time, but those who engage in community service such as this ought to get to wear a white hat, at least a little. Some say they’re going into horticulture when they get out; others are taking courses to help them learn how to be efficient farmers.

Giving is better than taking. And honest labor, even behind bars, offers some lessons one hopes will guide the inmates on the straight and narrow row in the future.

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