By Karen Morfitt
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Colorado inmates are using their time behind bars to support different programs in their community, offering up free pumpkins just in time for Halloween.
Of the nearly 14,000 inmates in the Jefferson County Jail, only a dozen get the opportunity to work on an outside landscape.
“We work Monday through Friday 5:30 a.m. to1:30 p.m. and between those hours I don’t feel like I’m an inmate,” said Tyge Polston.
Polston, 19, is serving a 6-month sentence for an underage DUI and then a probation violation.
He is one of the few who helped turn the patch of dirt outside the jail into a pumpkin patch.
“We put a lot of good effort into it. I think the main motivation was because we knew where it was going,” he said.
The gourds were going a few blocks away to Bell Middle School.
“So, we do a whole lot of different stuff,” 8th grade student Joseph Ford said about the mentoring program he is part of.
A small but important piece. Ford says they used the pumpkins for a carving contest.
“Everybody gets to go choose a pumpkin and then they work on it with their mentor and they already have the pumpkin carving supplies and stuff like that,” he said.
A little further down the street, Robert G. Weiland School, a special needs school, laid dozens of their pumpkins out in their lawn letting their students pick the perfect match for them.
Wherever they ended up, even Ford knows the value of where those pumpkins came from.
“Honestly like stuff like that, helping the community and stuff, I think it’s pretty good to help them get back on track,” he said.
While the inmate program teaches Polston a trade, he can carry with him when he is out. He is learning even more about life.
“Seeing the joy in their faces that a simple pumpkin can bring, it was its pretty amazing to see that,” said Polston.
There are a number of opportunities provided by the Jefferson County inmate worker program. Those that are part of the outside landscaping program undergo a screening process before starting.
In addition to taking care of the pumpkins, they maintain the campus as well as the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.
Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.