A job training program at the East Mesa Detention and Re‐entry Facility is taking root at county parks.
Trees and plants that were cultivated and grown at the jail’s greenhouse will be planted by inmates at five parks all over the county this month. The next planting is scheduled Thursday at El Monte County Park in Lakeside.
The job training program started in July 2014 to help inmates develop skills and work habits needed to secure honest employment after their release, according to a San Diego County Sheriff’s Department news release.
An instructor from Grossmont‐Cuyamaca Community College District teaches inmates basic horticultural and landscaping skills. Inmates graduate with a certificate of participation.
While working in the parks, inmate workers perform tasks such as landscaping, cleaning county parks, trails, canals or ditches, clearing vegetation, creating fire buffer zones, as well as trimming and cutting hazardous trees.
“Gardening can be therapeutic and gives inmates a sense of purpose while serving time behind bars. The work they do for county parks also helps inmates build healthier connections with the community,” the release stated.
To be eligible for the program, inmates must be housed at the East Mesa Jail and have six months or less left in their sentences. They can’t be convicted of violent or sexual crimes. While outside, a deputy is on site and watches the inmates at all times, the release continued.
The program is a partnership between the sheriff’s department and County Parks and Recreation.