Corrections officials: green initiatives stretching funding


Left: Corrections Officer Charles Smith explains the Okaloosa Correctional Institution’s greenhouse operations to Dan Murzin and Michelle Tait on Tuesday. Right: This cabbage garden is one of several maintained by Okaloosa Correctional Institution inmates.

MATTHEW BROWN / News Bulletin
Published: Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 20:18 PM.

CRESTVIEW — Community members touring the Okaloosa Correctional Institution on Tuesday learned that the facility has several environmentally green, cost-conscious initiatives.

It’s well known that inmate service crews working for the county’s municipalities save those cities money, but warden John Willis said the facility does so much more to stretch taxpayers’ dollars.

Inmates grow vegetables on a portion of the institution’s 23-acre property, including a 3,000-square-foot green house.

The correctional institution reportedly saves the Florida Department of Corrections over $104,000 by distributing 150,101 pounds of produce to the department's compounds.

Willis said 200 volunteers assist with GED and religious programs and classes that prepare inmates for life after release. The re-entry program includes classes in money and anger management, and parenting skills.

Theodore Powell, pastor of Church of God by Faith in Crestview, said his church’s members — who visit and minister to inmates monthly — appreciate such programs.

"It's the people we go to church with or those we see in Wal-Mart ... (which) have been in this institution," he said. "It makes me think of the importance of what the institution is doing ... because we have to live with these people."

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