When Washington State last year cut funding for a female inmate firefighting crew, 50 of the 180 inmates at the prison were left with a lot of time on their hands, says the Kitsap (WA) Sun. Now, inmates have teamed up with an agency that works to restore the salmon habitat. Each Monday, groups of eight women are taken to rivers and streams where they work all day spraying knotweed, a noxious weed that can destroy salmon habitat.
The inmates from the minimum-security prison get training, pay of $1 an hour and a chance to venture beyond the prison walls. The salmon group gets an enthusiastic cadre of women who can complete half-mile eradication efforts in a day. The inmates can take a test to become licensed at handling and spraying pesticides. “It’s another thing I can get my license for,” said Stephanie Humphreys-Bennett, a Tacoma woman serving 43 months for possession of stolen property.