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The Glades Prison in Belle Glade, Fla., will close its doors for good on December 1. The state has been moving inmates to other facilities since the closing was announced earlier this year, and now the place houses more cats than cons.

Prisons are apparently a very popular dumping ground for unwanted cats. Over the years, approximately 100 of them had come to live at Glades. The inmates had fed them even though this is prohibited by prison rules.

It just goes to show that even hardened criminals enjoy the company of a warm, soft, purring, and nonjudgmental companion. And hey, do you really expect criminals to obey rules — especially when those rules are just plain silly?

Prison staff are trapping the cats and bringing them to Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control, where they hope to find new homes for the not-so-felonious felines.

But this happy little partnership has been little more than a death sentence for the cats. Of the 23 cats taken to AC&C so far, all but four were killed because they were deemed feral and therefore unadoptable.

In the comments section of the Palm Beach Post story on the cats, one person who went by the username Work @ Glades wrote, “These cats have a lot of issues, they should have trapped these cats a long time ago! They have skin diseases, they are deformed, & im sure they all full of fleas, ticks & other stuff you cant see! I dont think anybody should bring these cats in their home!” (sic)

If Work @ Glades’s comment on the state of the cats is true, it’s even more of a shame than the crimes against grammar committed in the writing of that comment.

If Belle Glades had worked with local animal rescue groups to organize a trap-neuter-return program, the cats would have been healthier and the population would have stayed under control.

If the staff had seen the cats as anything but pests, they would have come to appreciate not only the felines’ rodent-hunting skills but the positive effect they had on the inmates.

There are entire TV series based on the premise of jail inmates working with rescue animals in a mutually beneficial way. Why? Because there’s plenty of research to corroborate the therapeutic and behavioral benefits of animals on prison inmates.

Why not follow the lead of facilities like the Northern Nevada Correctional Center or Indiana State Prison? Inmates keep the cats and learn new skills (and new behaviors), rescue groups neuter them and keep them healthy, the cats eat the mice and rats … and everybody wins.