Itawamba County Jail garden provides life skills for trustees

The garden at the new jail is also a saving for taxpayers

ITAWAMBA COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – Inmates in Itawamba County are learning valuable life skills while growing their own produce.

Since April, trustees at the Itawamba County Jail have worked the garden, Monday through Friday.

“They come out every morning and work, four or five hours, gives them something to do and it shows them progress,” said Maj. Malcomb Driskill, jail administrator.

Inmates have seen a lot of progress since they began working on this parcel of land, behind the new jail. The first order of business was to get rid of the rocks, then it was time to plant.

Sheriff Chris Dickinson started making plans for a garden to feed inmates as soon as construction began on the new jail. The goal is to give the trustees a chance to get outdoors, and also it also gives taxpayers a break on costs.

“When I first started, we were paying $4.24 per meal. They were feeding two meals a day, now we feed three meals a day, and we’re down in a dollar a meal, feeding three meals a day, with produce and donations we get,” Dickinson said.

The sheriff’s office and taxpayers are even saving money on irrigation. After a ditch was completed, water started coming up from an underground spring.   That is being used to water the garden.

“The groundwater is coming up. We’re using a sump pump and we’re utilizing that. It’s not costing us to have to pay for the water. God is giving us the water like He’s given us what we have out here,” Dickinson said.

Trustees also get fresh eggs from hens in the jail garden’s chicken house, as part of their daily work.

“We love coming outside, being able to get out and work, instead of just sitting inside and not doing anything at all, gives us something to do and adds a life skill everybody needs to learn,” said Trustee Casey Wood.

The jail garden includes tomatoes, squash, corn, zucchini, peas, green beans, watermelon, and cantaloupe.

Harvest should begin in a few weeks for some of the crops.

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