Six Canadian prisons used to have farm programs where inmates could work, until the Harper government shut them down, arguing that few inmates in the program ended up working on farms after they left prison.

The piece that the Harper government missed or didn’t care about, is that many inmates who went through the program said the real value came with the personal development they experienced while working among the animals. Inmates reported among other things, improved patience, empathy, and anger management skills.

Some farmers around Kingston, where Canada’s largest prison is located, felt so strongly about the importance of the Farm program that when the prison farm closed bought up part of the dairy herd, which had been specially bred to be docile, and have been continuing the line, hoping that they could one day return to cows the prison.

With any luck, they will get their chance.