Transcript for Dozens of Prisons Across the Country Are Turning to Gardening for Rehabilitation
Viagra. Talk to your doctor. Chances garden equipment and a truly surprising way to change the hearts of some very tough people. It starts with a small patch of soil, a handful of seeds and it works. Bill ritter joins up with a woman who is america strong. Reporter: San quentin, one of the toughest prisons in the world. Rasheed is here, two years into an eight-year stint for robbery. He’s been in and out of the system since he was 15 but for the first time in his life, he has a diploma. A gardening diploma. I can connect spiritually with something as simple as gardening. Reporter: Dozens of prisons across the country are turning to gardening as authorities rethink their old strategies of warehousing prisoners instead of rehabilitating them. Take dennis. He’s serving 22 years for burglary. Now, he’s becoming an “expert” in soil composition. I’m sitting next to this guy who I would have been fighting on some other yard. But it really amazed me that i could actually prune plants and dig in soil. And it really touched me. Reporter: These gardens represent a kind of “back to the future” movement. Not that long ago, just a few gardening decades, prisons had gardens and farms. Beth waitkus is brining gardening back to these prisoners. If I could find humanity here, I could find it anywhere. Reporter: A former city kid, she found refuge in soil, planting hundreds of tulip bulbs with her grandmother, wanting to show others the peace gardening gave her. We believe that everybody has a heart and everybody has a chance for transformation. Reporter: And it works. Nationally, 6 out of every 10 ex-cons will return to prison. But home improvement waitkus says fewer than 10% of her gardener graduates come back. Most get jobs and pay taxes. For a lot of us once we get out, we feel there’s nothing to go to. And with this program, I feel like there’s a little something I can go to if I need to. Reporter: Inch by inch. Row by row. In the end what beth and here garden project are harvesting here goes far beyond just fruits and vegetables and in that way she’s keeping america strong. Bill ritter, abc news.
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