“These are jobs Americans won’t do.”
Pulling at band-aids wrapped around her blistered fingers, Linda Buckham remembered how elated she had felt seeing a peacock and hearing cattle.
“‘All we’re missing is a rooster crowing,”‘ she recalled telling a fellow prison inmate at the time. “And then a rooster started crowing.”
Buckham, incarcerated for embezzlement, is one of 15 prisoners at Pueblo’s minimum-security La Vista Correctional Facility who plant crops and pull weeds as part of a new prison farm-labor program.
Buckham, who spoke with reporters Tuesday on an onion farm outside Avondale, is so happy to leave prison each day that she doesn’t mind rising at 3:30 a.m. and working in 100-degree heat.
Turns out there are some Americans willing to work for the money offered. There are around 4,500 inmates in Colorado eligible for the program.
The inmates who volunteered to work on the farm said it isn’t easy work, but it offers many solutions to their own problems at prison.
“I’m not sitting in the facility and being depressed and sleeping all the time,” Buckham said. “It’s been a great opportunity.”
Kaedra Peterson, 32, in prison for drug possession, said her pay increased from 60 cents a day for prison work to $4 a day at the farm. She used to rely on money from her grandmother to buy basic necessities such as toothpaste and soap. Now, she can pick up that tab as well as pay more toward restitution.