A prison in Aberdeen, Wash. looks a little different than the bleak landscape, dirty walls and lifeless structure that are standard throughout the U.S. The Stafford Creek facility has been revamped into a sustainable learning outlet for inmates.
Instead of creating license plates, inmates are trained to better understand human impact on the environment. Once released, it is possible that many of these inmates will go on to work at recycling centers or plant nurseries if they harness their training.
The program is a part of the Sustainable Prisons Project, a joint venture between the Washington Department of Corrections and The Evergreen State College in Olympia.
Behind the prison is a greenhouse where inmates learn how to restore native plant species by dropping seeds into rows of plant-starter tubes. For Daniel Smith, who is currently incarcerated for running a meth lab, the experience has given him more than just a green thumb.
“I’ve really realized the damage that was caused by the chemicals and whatnot that I was playing with and whatnot when I was out there and I just feel I can use this to be a better person once I return to society,” he tells OBP News.
But the greenhouse isn’t the only sustainable practice inmates are taking part in. The prison also recycles “everything they can down to the prison-issue shoes that inmates wear.”
The facility is also reducing its water and electricity use and has even created a composting system in which inmates chop up old lettuce for the giant worm bin. For many inmates, this is the start of a greener life.