Carlos Rosado Earns Bachelor's Degree, Plants Garden All While Serving Time

"Maybe if I had that information, I would not have been in prison or done the things I have done back then," he said. "This garden gave me a sense of empowerment."

Inmate Javier Flores, 31, said that he's thankful for the garden because it helped him to learn that "you don't have to commit a crime and take someone's property in order to feed your family."

Flores has been incarcerated for 10 years stemming from robbery and weapon possession charges. He hopes to be released next year.

"[Now I know] I have a responsibility toward the environment and my community and my family," said Flores, adding that he writes to his 10-year-old daughter about the garden. "Before, on the street, I never thought about any of that."

For Rosado, who spent several years at other prisons such as the notoriously tough Attica Correctional Facility prior to coming to Woodbourne, the garden served to support what he'd already learned through hours of sitting in his cell and thinking.

"I already had an understanding that resorting to any type of activity that would [lead to punishment] is not an option for me anymore," said Rosado, who has a job interview set up with a recycling company in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

"The garden is a culmination of that understanding; it's a byproduct of my understanding that crime is not an option.

"It's the cherry on top of the cake."

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