HELENA, Okla. -- The fields of waving wheat are a classroom for Department of Corrections inmates. James Crabtree Correctional Center in Helena has a 500 acre wheat farm where inmates learn all about agriculture.
Jimmy Wilson with the Agri-Services Division says Oklahoma’s Ag industry is “felon friendly”. Inmates with machinery, planting and harvesting skills are in high demand. Wilson said, “I have a guy locally out of Buffalo, he works a lot of guys that he’s giving them a second chance. And trying to get them involved in church and whatever else he can. A little counseling 101, you know.”
Brandon Roland and his fleet of combines make the annual trek to Oklahoma and the DOC farm.
He says the industry is desperate for qualified farm hands. According to Roland, “Farmers, more than anything believe in second chances with people. You know what, you made a bad decision in life, they are trying to get their life back together. Like the Good Book said, don’t judge others and that’s how a lot of farmers look at it.”
Harvesting is winding down after a relentless rainy season and late start cutting. Wilson says it’ll be a decent yield, but more than that, it’s helping Agri-Services to produce opportunity for Department of Corrections inmates.