|Prisoners could become farmers|
WALLA WALLA, Washington – If all goes as planned. inmates at the Washington State Penitentiary could be tending to hops and wine grapes from within the fences of the prison in the near future.
Jeremy Petty and his fiancée, Erin Aycock, own Walla Walla Vineyard Management and Walla Walla Hops LLC. The two have presented a proposal to the Department of Corrections to lease land that would allow inmates to plant, grow and pick grapes and hops as part of a job training program.
“The primary purpose is to educate the inmates on how to work in a vineyard or hops field – to prepare them for re-entry into the workforce,” Aycock said.
While inmates would work in the vineyard during the day, they would take educational classes at night, focusing on soil science, infrastructure development, irrigation pump technology, and harvesting.
According to Aycock, the idea that originated in 2015 consists of leasing 5.2 acres in the portion of the prison that housed the now unused farm area.
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