WSVN — If you’re a fan of the Florida Keys, then you know folks there are proud of its reputation as a unique place to live. And, as you’ll see in this special assignment report, that includes the jail, where things are wild. 7’s Carmel Cafiero explains. 
It isn’t unusual for a chicken to be confined, but this chicken is locked up under the Monroe County Detention Center. She’s part of a menagerie of more than 150 wild and farm animals. 

Jeanne Selander, Monroe County Detention Center: "This is a very unusual facility. We’ve done some research, and it’s the only one of its kind in the country."

The facility is located on Stock Island in Key West. Under and around the jail, you’ll find turkeys, alpacas and even an emu.

More than 30 species are cared for here, and all share the same crime: No one wanted them. 

Jeanne Selander: "All the animals are abandoned, abused, confiscated or donated. So, we do not purchase any animals."

Selander runs the farm on the jail grounds, which pays for itself through donations and profits from the inmate canteen. 

Jeanne Selander: "I call her ‘Momma.’ She came from an illegal slaughterhouse up in Miami. There were 250 animals confiscated."

It all started by accident 22 years ago, when ducks were brought to live underneath the jail as many were being hit by cars.

Word spread in Key West that the jail was taking in homeless animals, and now the farm is not just helping animals.

Low-risk inmates are able to get out of their cells and spend their days feeding, cleaning and caring for the creatures.

Jeanne Selander: "They can’t be violent offenders. They cannot be child offenders. They cannot be animal abusers."

So, what are they accused of?

Tommie Piatt: "Grand theft."

Seth Beckman: "I’m in here for possession of cocaine."

Jeff Mitchell: "I committed a crime — a misdemeanor."

Selander runs the operation with a weapon, and no inmate has escaped in a decade.

Inmates said the hard work outside the jail cells beats the alternative on the inside.

Adam Korzen: "It is pretty cool. It makes you smile, and there’s very few things that can make you smile here."

Seth Beckman: "It gives me patience. Something to help me for when I get out." 

Tommie Piatt: "That feeling of a little worth, self-worth."

Jeff Mitchell: "I love it. It’s an opportunity to interact with these fascinating creatures. This is the Keys. Even here, this is still the Keys."

And as we all know, characters in the Keys come in many different forms.

Tours of the farm are free and open to the public, two Sundays a month.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm
5501 College Rd.
Key West, Florida
(305) 293-7300

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