On Wednesday morning July 25th, 2018, he walked out of Richland Correctional Institution, RiCI, to never go back in.

Wearing simple sweatpants and a white T-shirt with a coffee stain, his belongings in two net bags, he made his way towards me where I had waited in my car on the visitor parking lot. He looked strong in some sense, with a good tan, steady pace, ready for a new life, ready to stay out.

Let’s call him Sam, my Big Hanna friend walking towards freedom. In 2012, then at Noble Correctional Institution, NCI, Sam became responsible for running the first Big Hanna in-vessel composting operation in the United States, as a Trustee Inmate. The work by Sam, his supervisors and his fellow inmates was so successful that the two Big Hanna T240 at NCI led the way to a roll-out of six Big Hanna T480 and two Big Hanna T60 at Correctional Institutions and Juvenile Facilities in Ohio. These ten composting machines, mostly combined with pulpers, keep close to 3 600 tons of food waste out of landfills every year in Ohio.

As Sam got transferred to RiCI, he showed also there how to obtain a great in-vessel composting process, this time in a Big Hanna T480. The work with composting, with soils and with gardening, based on the support he once got from a very special supervisor at NCI, made life endurable inside the fence, at times even really good. There was a purpose.

As Sam now starts his new life with a few weeks at a halfway house in Akron, awaiting return to his family in Alabama, recycling, composting and gardening will be central in his life. While his action resulting in incarceration took many years away from Sam, he knows it also gave him something in return.

Every time I saw Sam during my visits to NCI or RiCI, Sam would ask: “Where is my Mocha and my Croissant?”

As we drove from RiCI to Akron on this special Wednesday, we stopped at Starbucks in Ashland. Sitting across from each other at a simple table, Sam finally got his Mocha and his Croissant and I was the happiest guy in the world sharing the moment with him.

By Eskil Eriksson

Big Hanna Distributor in USA

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