Dart: Jail Garden Teaches Job Skills

Saturday, Sep 10, 2011  |  Updated 9:39 AM CDT
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The Squeeze: Inside MSNBC's New Series on Cook County Jail

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Two women walk toward a visitor's entrance of a maximum security detention area of the Cook County jail February 12, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois.

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Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says a huge jailhouse garden is allowing detainees to learn skills that could lead to jobs once they're released.

An 18-year-old garden on the grounds of the Cook County Jail was recently expanded from 14,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet. There also is a greenhouse.

Dart says the areas allow more than 100 non-violent detainees to learn gardening and landscaping skills. Dozens were recognized Friday with certificates of completion for work in the classroom and garden.

Twenty more will receive certificates of participation for completing some course work from the 12-week horticultural and landscaping curriculum.

Detainees harvested about 3,000 pounds of produce this year that was donated to local shelters and food banks. Some is sold to restaurants.

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