A county sheriff in northwest Iowa is offering a unique reward for good behavior by jail inmates. Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo is allowing inmates to work in a garden. “It’s just a small garden to start with. I wanted to see how this was going to work. It’s something I’ve always thought about doing,” Van Otterloo said.
A 20 by 25 foot area was recently tilled for a vegetable garden outside the jail in Le Mars. “We’re going to have onions, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, green beans, those kinds of things and the inmates are going to keep (the garden) clean and watered,” Van Otterloo said.
Some of the produce might be sold to the company that provides meals at the jail. But Van Otterloo doesn’t expect the county will turn much of a profit. “I’m not looking at making thousands of dollars on this garden, but the concept is that it is a bit of an incentive for a few of the inmates to do well and give them the opportunity to get out and get some fresh air,” Van Otterloo said.
Only a few of the 54 inmates are eligible to work in the garden on the grounds where they’re behind bars.
by Joanne Glamm, KLEM