Cook County inmates serving time by raising chickens
August 1, 2013 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has pioneered unusual programs for non-violent inmates that he says he thinks will make them less likely to return.
Just inside the wall, you'll find a different kind of jail bird in the Cook County lock-up.
"We put these here so they're trained to come back and lay the eggs," said inmate.
That's right: Inmates are raising chickens. And corrections officers are the foxes guarding the hen house.
There may be people who see this and say that it's one more of Sheriff Tom Dart's crazy ideas.
"Yes," Dart said, "and there's more crazy ideas to come, as long as it has the hook."
That hook, according to Dart, is life skills.
In the case of the chickens: Teaching non-violent inmates skills they can use on the outside. They're the ones who built the coops, tend the grounds, care for the hens and package their product.
"Once they get acclimated to life behind bars, the jail's 30 chickens are expected to produce nearly 200 eggs per week."
Miguel Guerrero has a few days left on a 45 day sentence for driving on a suspended license.
"I had a background in training horses," he said. "I've always been interested in livestock so it's a new skill to learn."
"People see we're in jail and they think of us as criminals, but we're not," said inmate Daniel Diaz. "We're normal people that make mistakes outside and we got to pay the consequences."
The Sheriff also runs a large garden. The produce is sold to restaurants across the city. He's hosted chess tournaments with Russian prisoners, even offered guitar lessons.
"The notion that inmates sit in a cell all day, conspire with other detainees about their next time as opposed to sitting here doing something positive, this really is a no-brainer," Dart said.
And the chickens may be getting some pen pals soon. There are plans in the works for inmates to begin raising tilapia behind bars as well.
cook county, local, ben bradley
- Chicago police officer shot on South Side 57 min ago
- Vietnam says it may have found missing jet's door
- Good Samaritans rescue driver from burning van
- ABC7 First Alert Weather Forecast
- Man fatally shot by police in domestic dispute
- Sheriff Dart facing opposition from own party
- Brown's Chicken killer wins federal lawsuit
- Mobile payment option for metered parking
- Farewell held for local deployed soldiers
- Gay wedding expo celebrates marriage equality
- Fundraiser held for teen injured at ski park
- Orr Academy basketball player among 6 shot at party
- Mexican culture celebrated at Navy Pier
- abcnews: Toddler with Rare Kidney Disease Beats Odds
- Chicago police officer shot on South Side
57 min ago
ABC7Chicago.com News Links
Most Viewed StoriesMost Viewed Photos