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Preparing for a New Life
Preparing for a new life. Tempo English: Outreach.
Wednesday, 11 April, 2018 | 18:06 WIB
Preparing for a New Life

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Correctional facilities are not always places where only sanctions are carried out; they can also function to rehabilitate inmates and teach them new skills, preparing them for life outside of prison. Rehabilitation is what drives programs run at a number of correctional facilities meant to empower their residents. In South Sulawesi, the Maros Class IIA Correctional Facility has opened a library for inmates. Books at the library, on topics such as farming and agriculture, have inspired inmates to try their hand at entrepreneurship. In a correctional facility for drug-related crimes in the Gowa Regency, South Sulawesi, inmates are raising catfish and supplying them to a superstore in Makassar. Tempo English reports. 

Libraries for Prison Inmates 

Inmates at a correctional facility in Maros, South Sulawesi, have developed some businesses. They learned about farming from library books. 

Hendra Lalang has followed a new routine for the past nine months. Each morning he farms a 1.4 hectare plot of land. He usually starts by removing weeds. Then he hoes some soil and checks on the health of his plants. If he finds any white crust on the leaves, it means there are pests. "I usually spray with soapy water to clear it up," said this 37-year-old man, two weeks ago.

He is growing vegetables and fruits on his land, such as chilies, watercress, and watermelon. His plants are located next to a fish pond and a pen for raising cows and chickens. However, he does not own the land. It is a part of the Maros Class II-A Correctional Facility in South Sulawesi, which has 289 inmates.

Hendra is himself an inmate on the prison's four hectares. He is serving a two-year sentence for a theft case, of which he has served ten months. He farms after breakfast and the routine inspection at 7:30 am. "Because I am accustomed to this routine, my body feels weak if I don't farm," he joked.

According to Hendra, he enjoys farming because it made him study some new things. He learned about seedlings, making compost fertilizer, plant care, and the identification and treatment of plant diseases. He plans to try his luck as a chili farmer after his release. "I have family land in my hometown in Limbung, Gowa Regency," he said.

Hendra learned farming on his own from behind bars. He learned from other inmates who had already started farming on the prison grounds, and others who worked in agriculture before being incarcerated. They exchange information about farming.

Hendra also learned about farming from books. These books were not brought to him by visitors, but were from the Jeruji Library, a library found inside the Maros Correctional Facility. This library has a collection of about 800 books, some of them about agribusiness. Last week, for instance, Hendra borrowed two books, Cultivating Chilies and A Complete Guide to the Cultivation and Business of Chilies.

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