Greener Prisons: Part 2

I talked a little last time about how prison should be a horrid place. It should be a place that they never ever want to come back to no matter how difficult their lives get. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case.

I’ve heard talk about the ‘inhumaneness’ of prisons. I don’t think ‘humane’ should be applied to prisons. Ever. Once you kill someone, once you rape someone, once you torture someone, you should be stripped of all your ‘rights’. Murder, rape, whatever other things that strip someone else of their basic right to live are things that are all, for the most part, universally unacceptable. I honestly have no idea how this would happen, but I guess there is a chance that this sense would skip some people and if it did then we have a serious, serious problem. Whether people really don’t know that these things are wrong or whether they just don’t care is a question that I don’t have the answer to. In any case, prison should be a place where serious thought is given to how a person could or should change their life.

Prison should be a punishment. It should be the worst place on Earth. It should give them a shock in their system and gives them a reason to think about the path they are on and give them a reason to change. Of course, none they can’t change if we as a society never give them a chance. Throughout their time in prison they should be able to work their way up through a reward system. They should be shown what it is like to have responsibility, to have some trust them and get rewarded when they show promise. Usually prisons have a system in place where they are rewarded with a job or into a lower security prison. Those are two good options I guess unless they want to be lazy and not work, but I don’t think they really give prisoners enough coping skills to prepare them for the outside world. That’s why I like prison programs. The programs teach them new skills that they can use when they get out, makes them work maybe even to the point that they’re so exhausted they don’t energy to fight, helps them learn about responsibility or teaches them to handle their emotions.

Green programs have an added bonus. Several of these articles say that the benefits of the programs are that environmental technology and products are becoming more popular. The programs give prisoners skills that will help them out of prison.

Washington and Oregon have pretty good programs. Oregon seems to have a pretty good general understanding of what works when reducing recidivism. They even have some of the lowest rates in the country. Belfair, Wash. has a butterfly research program. Selected prisoners raise rare butterflies and help the college with their research. The prisoners are co-authored on any published research. One prisoner even said that she found her purpose. That’s what it’s all about, people. Cedar Creek, the same one I mentioned yesterday, is raising bees and endangered frogs.

Cedar Creek

Italian honey at the Cedar Creek Corrections Center in rural southwest, Wash.,

Ohio is also has some green programs in place. It saved over $13,000 in 201 by sorting waste into recycling and composting piles.

Some prisons have gardens (some prisons go as far as to make them organic gardens) Of these I think gardening is my favorite. There are actually studies done about the neurological effects of gardening. For inmates it would probably help even more. It would give them a feeling of control to be able to create something like that and be the owner of even a tiny patch of ground. It would give a feeling of accomplishment. Oftentimes, the prisons will sell the produce or give it homeless shelters. The fresher the produce the more nutrients it has. Sometimes negative feelings come from a lack of nutrients, so this could also help them once they get out of jail. Also, it would help them because they have to spend less money on food.


Inmates check on plants in one of the organic gardens at the Cedar Creek Corrections Center in Washington


If prisons have any kind of green policies in place, the usually include alternative energy, which they sometimes use to heat water, recycling and compost sorting, and some have rain water collection systems and use the water to flush toilets.

These prisons are doing better than some of us are. I say it may be time to step up our game.