Canada Considers Reopening Prison Farms to Help Rehabilitate Inmates

Posted by Stacey Venzel

Canada tables the idea of reopening prison farms to teach skills that can't be learned behind bars.

In 2010, all six of Canada's prison farms were shut down when the conservative government took over. Now, with a liberal party calling the shots, there's talk of reopening the farms.

The farms were an alternative restorative justice program that in turn offered rehabilitation to prisoners. As anyone living the farm life can attest, shoveling cow patties and feeding chickens all day nurtures responsibility and patience.


Pat Kincaid spent 35 years in a cell. He says he it was the farm work that made his time go by quickly. He said:

"There's not a program in jail, even today, that can teach those skills that the cows have taught me by working with them. The cows taught me patience and how to control my anger, and how to deal with being upset...I know it helped other inmates too."

The inmates at prison farms get to see the fruits of their labor, too--literally. Food from their hard work feeds the prisoners, providing an economic break for tax payers.

Prison farms were started back in the 1880s in Canada. The workers filtered their time between feeding, milking, tilling, planting, raking, bailing, plowing, and harvesting.


Over 700 inmates were employed by prison farms during their closing year.

The land has been rented out since the farms' closings but is still owned by the government. Voters are encouraged to give their opinions about reopening prison farms via online polling or writing letters to the government.

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Canada Considers Reopening Prison Farms to Help Rehabilitate Inmates