Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins has developed a program for inmates that is in its third year and is showing positive results.
We are referring to his farming program that has inmates growing vegetables and fruits in the prison yard.
This program helps inmates develop skills that will make them more marketable to employers upon release and thereby help reduce recidivism.
Nothing can be more important than bringing former prisoners back into the mainstream of society with a good job. Studies have shown that self-esteem returns to inmates who can hold a job and support themselves and their families. This program has shown positive results for those inmates who have completed this program, not to mention that last year it produced more than 1,000 pounds of fresh produce that went directly to feed inmates in the Suffolk County Jail facilities.
Innovative programs such as this are what are needed to rehabilitate inmates and prevent them from entering what all-too-often is a revolving door of incarceration.
We commend Sheriff Tompkins for thinking outside the box. Not only is he helping the taxpayers by turning inmates into productive members of society, eventually saving tens of thousands of dollars in jail costs by reducing recidivism, but he also — and more importantly — is helping inmates to develop a sense of self-worth that benefits themselves and their families.