Efforts like this are possible through Washington's Sustainability in Prisons programs.
It began in 2003 as a pilot project between Cedar Creek Corrections Center and Evergreen State College. Cedar Creek was looking to go green, and had already launched gardening, compost, and recycling projects. Around the same time, a professor at Evergreen, Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, was looking to work with inmates to study forest mosses, which desperately needed to be replenished.
The two projects crossed paths and within five years, the partnership grew and expanded to become the Sustainability in Prisons Program (SPP).
The program has now expanded to every corrections facility in Washington, with most boasting anywhere from eight to 12 projects on site, including gardening classes, dog training programs, composting and recycling initiatives, even environmental literacy courses and lectures.
The program's partnerships with zoos along with local and national fish and wildlife departments have led to many successful conservation efforts.
Incarcerated individuals at Cedar Creek Correction Center are learning about beekeeping and even became certified as apprentice beekeepers.
The women at the Mission Creek Corrections Center built a facility to breed and raise Taylor's checkerspot butterflies. The creatures were once fairly common in the Pacific Northwest, but have experienced rapid decline since 2001.
Mission Creek partnered with the Oregon Zoo (which created the first Taylor's checkerspot program) and the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife to release 2,500 butterflies into the wild each year onto restored prairies on the Puget Sound. Together, the Mission Creek and Oregon Zoo facilities have released more than 17,000 butterflies.
To read the entire story written by Erin Canty, please click here