The Boulder County Jail recently brought in 2 cats to hunt mice in its organic garden, but their duties took on a much greater meaning that'll tug at your heartstrings.

Charlie and Adra were brought in to hunt mice and chase off rabbits in the jail's garden, which keeps the jail from having to use chemicals on the plants, the Daily Camera reports. They came in to replace Sarge, who had patrolled the garden years before, after he passed away about a year ago.

Beyond protecting the beets, carrots, cucumbers, onions, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, and the like, Charlie and Adra have become beloved family members to the rotating inmates who help tend the garden and have helped them make strides in personal development.

"Those guys are really fond of those cats," Sgt. Paul Heger told the Daily Camera. "One inmate got in trouble and couldn't work in the garden. He kept asking about the cat. He didn't care about anything else. That's a big step for some of these guys."

Working in the jail's garden is a highly sought-after job among the inmates, and only 4 out of the approximately 500 inmates get to work in the garden full-time. They work as many as 12 hours per day and are taught by professional gardeners who volunteer at the jail, giving the inmates something valuable to learn instead of soaking up potentially bad experiences and ideas from other inmates.

One inmate, Andrew Johnson, reflected on how far the garden and cats have helped him come in life to the Daily Camera. He says he has an extensive criminal record and has been in jail for about a year on a probation violation that stemmed from a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. While he doesn't "doesn't hold the criminal justice system in high regard," he is appreciative of the opportunity the Boulder County Jail has given him to better his life.

"You never think you'd have a big tough guy get teary-eyed when he gets to see a cat," Heger told the Daily Camera of Johnson and other inmates who work in the garden. "It opens them up to ideas and people and the experience. They get to see the yield that they brought with their hard labor."

To read a bit more about the Boulder County Jail's garden and cats, Charlie and Adra, read more HERE.

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