United States holds the highest populace in penitentiaries in world. More than 2 million adult American are locked up in state and federal prisons whether or not they can afford bail or bail bonds. Aside from this, the recidivism or re-offending rates are shocking. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that within their 3 years of release, 68% of the detainees are arrested again and those within their 5 years of release, 77% are re-arrested. Over the last 30 years, this statistics have little improvement. When former US President Obama visited the El Reno Prison located in Oklahoma, he called for a complete “prison reform.”
The very influential “Martinson Report” in the 1970s reported on the result of more than 200 correctional treatment studies. According to the evaluated findings, “rehabilitation doesn’t work.” Martinson eventually deduced that possibly “education at its best, or psychotherapy at its best, cannot overcome, or even appreciably reduce, the powerful tendencies for offenders to continue in criminal behavior“. This account had a deep and enduring effect and influence on correctional practitioners, policy-makers, as well as the public in general.
This, however, doesn’t mean basically giving up on the prison population. The United States, since the 1990’s, has observed the progression of the so-called “green prison” programs. This programs for all intents and purposes provide the incarcerated a kind of therapy that is nature-based where they are under the supervision of trained professionals.
They are involved in horticultural and gardening activities, like landscaping, plant cultivation, green roof gardening, as well as learning about nature and animal care for environmental stewardship. The green prison programs frequently bring together gardening activities with vocational education. Furthermore, they also include the teaching mindfulness and social skills like how to efficiently work well with others.
A few prominent examples of this “green prison” initiatives or programs is Riker Island’s Greenhouse programs, the Garden Project in San Francisco, the Insight Garden Program or IGP run in the San Quentin and California State Prison-Solano located in California and the Ohio Green Prison Project and the Sustainability in Prisons project directed in penitentiaries all over Washington State.
But could these “green prison” programs break recidivism? Watch the video below to learn more.