Magazine article Corrections Forum

Fishing for Dollars

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Fishing for Dollars

Article excerpt

What do you get when you cross a catfish with a researcher?

About $200,000 in grant money. That's how much was awarded to Julie Harrington and her crew for their proposal to have Florida inmates grow cat fish and tilapia (a fast growing fish species) at 11 facilities statewide.

"The Cage Culture Pilot Project" ranked first out of 54 submissions to the State Innovation Investment Program, administered through the Department of Management Services.

Harrington, who has a Ph.D. in economics, works as a forecaster and statistician in the DC Bureau of Research and Data Analysis. Harrington also has a master's degree in fisheries from Auburn University and worked with Peace Corps fisheries extension in the 1980s in the Philippines, raising tilapia in over 100 fish ponds there. Though Harrington came up with the project, she says crucial help came from Walter Burrichter, the DC Farm Coordinator, and Engineer Joe Jereb in Asset Management who provided technical expertise in permitting requirements. The short-term project goal is to provide fish for consumption at individual facilities. Surplus at one institution will provide fish for other institutions. A long-term goal is to provide fish for the correctional system statewide. But probably the highest overall benefit is that inmates gain job skills.

For Florida, the largest fisheries operations are in the tropical fish industry. "The skills inmates gain from this freshwater cage culture project can be transferred to salt water fisheries industries when they get out of prison, ` said Harrington. …

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