Some Missouri inmates finish prison down on the farm

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MARYVILLE, Mo. -- Matthew Painter has spent much of his adult life in state prison. During a prison stint in 2008, Painter spent a full year in solitary confinement, after he was involved in a jailhouse fight.

"I got out and did the same things, kept getting the same results. I made a conscious and willing decision this time that I'm going to do something different this time be something better," Painter said.

And that different path led Painter to the "Maryville Treatment Center." It's a minimum-security facility where some offenders, near the end of their sentence, can finish the final year of the term growing vegetables and taking part in a program known as "restorative justice."

"We do four hours of treatment every day, we work for four hours every day and it's more regimented then general population prison would be," said Warden Gaye Colburn.

The farming operation is prolific.

Statewide, the farms in the restorative justice program yielded 89-tons of fruits and vegetables for food shelters.

Warden Colburn says the offenders have to be recommended for the program by a parole board. It's not for everybody, and Colburn stresses it's not necessarily the work on the farm that keeps some from applying for the program. She says it's the intense classroom sessions stressing the harm done to the offender's victims, whether that's victims of their crimes, or heartbroken family members. It can be too much for some of the prisoners in the state's many general population prisons.

"Because you're held accountable for your actions and the other offenders have to hold you accountable for your actions. In a mainline population, that's not acceptable. That's snitching."