Hawaii Prison Farms Grow Their Own Produce

Sophie Cocke/Civil Beat

It’s hot, lush and peaceful at the Waiawa Correctional Facility, a sprawling 195-acre property that looks out on the ridges of the Waianae mountain range.

Sweet corn, green onions, lettuce, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, cabbage, beats and cherry tomatoes are grown by as many as a dozen inmates who work 35-hour weeks.

“It’s better than being caged up in Halawa. It’s hard to get sun,” said Ricky Kenui, who is in his early 40s and serving a 10-year prison term for stealing a van with tourists inside.

The facility is one of a few state prisons, along with the women’s prison in Kailua and the community correctional facilities on Oahu and Kauai, that have farms. Hawaii prisoners are growing 25 percent of the produce consumed at the state’s seven prisons, according to Toni Schwartz, spokeswoman for the Hawaii Department of Public Safety.

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