Via Graeme Wood at Pacific Standard:
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One of my daughter’s favorite stuffed animals is a chocolate-colored, beady-eyed buffalo that was stitched—lovingly, I like to think—by the hands of a convicted felon. The buffalo was born in Cañon City, Colorado, on the grounds of a large rural complex of six state prisons with a total of 4,000 inmates. Some of those inmates manufacture cute toys. Others tend real buffalo on feedlots and dairies outside in the mountain air. The goal, said Steve Smith, the prison-labor program’s mustachioed director until his retirement in December, is to convert the prisoners through labor into productive citizens. “This is a therapeutic community,” he said. “We’re trying to make them into taxpayers instead of tax burdens.” He channeled the Book of Isaiah, or possibly Ozzy Osbourne: “No rest for the wicked.”
The most familiar prison work programs involve stamping license plates or breaking rocks as part of a chain gang.