Why Prisons Are Going Green

Daytime eco-projects cut costs and boost social behavior
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2008 4:54 AM CST
A Washington state prison administrator examines pepper plants in a greenhouse the Cedar Creek Corrections Center.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Forget the chain gang and license plate production. Many of today's US prisoners are busy collecting rainwater and recycling old uniforms, AP reports. Facing costs in the billions and a rising prison population, more officials are putting inmates to work on daytime eco-projects. "It reduces cost, reduces our damaging impact on the environment, engages inmates as students," one administrator said.

No study has proven that green activities help convicts, but anecdotal evidence supports it—like the story of a Washington state prisoner who pursued a PhD after release and co-wrote a paper with an environmental studies professor. He and other cons "were stimulating their minds and having conversations that were different than 'How much more time we have left?'" the professor said.