Prisoners give back to their communities

The Missouri Department of Corrections is trying to teach inmates to give back to communities and victims through the department's Restorative Justice Program.

"One of the major things that we do every year with the exception of one or two prisoners that don't have enough room is they grow produce throughout the season and last year the inmates efforts donated 28 tons of produce to food pantries throughout Missouri," State Corrections Director George Lombardi said.

Lombardi said the program is a way for convicted criminals to show compassion to others and doesn TMt use taxpayer TMs money.

"All of the things in the restorative justice are through donated items, no tax dollars are used no matter what we're making," Lombardi said.

State inmates are still helping tornado victims and relief workers in Joplin.

The prisoners made more than 1500 "cooling ties," which are cloth items filled with beads that can be chilled and used by people who are working outside.

The inmates also made nearly 500 special stress-relieving pillows, more than 450 quilts and blankets and numerous other items for Joplin residents.

Lombardi said through the program the inmates also make things like bird houses for charitable organizations to auction off to raise money.

They also refurbish canes, walkers and wheelchairs that are then sent to the poorest countries in the world through a program called Wheels for the World.