Applaud Jail Program That Operates Special Animal Farm


Target: Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay

Goal: Applaud Stock Island Detention Center for doubling as an animal farm and rehabilitation program for inmates.

A detention center has been made into a home for an animal farm tended to by inmates. Over 21 years ago, traffic surrounding the Stock Island Detention Center in the Florida Keys started killing and injuring a flock of ducks. A fence and pond within Stock Island Detention Center acted as a sanctuary, but grew to include over 150 animals, including exotic birds, sloths, goats and tortoises. Most of these animals are rescues, need special care and have nowhere else to go. The inmates tend to the animals, clean their open living spaces, and learn more about themselves in the process.

This program acts as a form of rehabilitation for inmates by teaching them that they are capable of doing good, even behind bars. They bond with the animals and the outside community during bi-monthly open houses. By giving inmates responsibility and an opportunity to effect change in their community and surrounding environments, this program goes above and beyond the typical jail sentence in the United States.

Inmates leave Stock Island with the knowledge that they are capable of doing good and connecting with others, giving them an increased chance at a successful life once they leave. Focusing on animals who need special care is a rewarding experience for these inmates and allow the animals comfortable lives with safe homes. Applaud the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office for their unparalleled work with rescue animals and inmates.


Dear Sheriff Rick Ramsay,

Your work with the Stock Island Detention Center inmates and the animal farm is incredible.

By bringing together inmates and rescue animals, this program enriches many lives each day. Rescue animals typically have had a difficult start to life and are riddled with health problems that require special care. Instead of serving sentences with minimal activities, inmates are empowered to take an active role in caring for the animals. This allows inmates to contribute to their community, feel pride in their work, and as a result, they have a better chance at leading successful lives after serving their sentences.

Because this program does not accept funding from tax dollars, the community is an invaluable resource. They play a huge part in this farm, offering supplies, donations and support by attending bi-monthly open houses. Farm curator Jeanne Selander deserves special recognition for her vast knowledge of animal health and wellness, commitment to rescuing animals, and her patience in teaching inmates. She keeps the program running, for the benefit of the animals, inmates and community alike.

By running this unique program, you have broken the mold of the “typical” jail experience in the United States. Jail should be a place of rehabilitation and learning so inmates can avoid further crime. By instilling a sense of pride and self-worth through the Stock Island Detention Center animal farm, these men are more likely to continue community service after their sentences end.

Thank you for everything you do within your community, for inmates and animals.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Harald Koester

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