Rehabilitation or incarceration? It is one of America’s most debated and compelling questions. And it is often a riddle that remains unanswered. But what if there were a golden mean in our penal code, a natural balance between rehabilitation and restitution that led to better lives for prisoners and their communities? Cathrine Sneed, the founder and director of the Garden Project, a California-based prison program, believes that nature is where the riddle is answered and where prisoners can discover lives worth living. She also believes working with the land breaks the cycle of crime. Step inside her garden and watch how inmates change, how ex-cons flourish with honest jobs, and how a recidivism rate, nationally at 50% after two years, has been cut to 25% for Garden Project participants. Indeed, being “on the outside” has never meant this much to so many people.
- How does working outdoors with Nature change a prisoner’s outlook on life?
- How does a connection to the land cultivate an outlook of hope?
- How can work in a garden help prisoners turn over a new leaf?
- Why does the Garden Project give away the food that it grows?
- How are poverty and hunger related to crime?
If my son hadn’t had access to food, he too would have turned to selling drugs to get the food. And in my 20-year history, I have spoken to too many young men who said ‘I started selling drugs because my momma couldn’t feed me, and I was hungry.'”
—Cathrine Sneed, founder of the Garden Project