Women Inmates In Jessup Get Chance to Give Back
07/09/2010
Howard County Times

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Tynisha Walker is happy to be off the road crew.

This week the 26-year-old from East Baltimore, who is serving a four-year sentence for first-degree assault, traded her duties tending highways for work at the Days End Horse Farm in Lisbon.

Walker and seven other women are part of a new program designed to give inmates at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup a chance to give back and learn valuable work skills before they are released from prison.

Working with the horses, learning to lead them and tending the fields are far different experiences than Walker saw on the road crew.

“It’s something bigger than you, you kind of get scared,” she said of the animals.

Department of Corrections officials gathered at the 58-acre farm that houses abused and neglected horses Thursday to announce the program.

Kathy Howe, the Days End founder, said the inmates will contribute to farm maintenance and eventually learn to work with the horses.

“There’s always lots to keep up with,” she said. “So it will be great to have the extra help.”

Brooke Varny, assistant director for the farm, said the maintenance work will teach the women about job responsibility and perhaps encourage some to consider equine professions, but caring for the neglected animals can also help build compassion.

“Horses have a way of changing people’s lives, they just speak to people,” she said.

The plan to assign the women to the farm began when the Department of Corrections donated hay from its thoroughbred farm in Sykesville after Days End acquired 26 neglected horses from a farm in Garrett County earlier this year.

Secretary of public safety and correctional services Gary Maynard said the program, one of few like it in the country, will help the women learn to give back to communities they may have wronged.

While there is no statistical data on how such work programs affect inmates after they are released, Maynard said he knows this program will improve the lives of women who work on the farm.

“We just know from common sense this a going to work,” he said.

This story has been updated.