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14 green prisons

landscaped prison yard

Photo: Washington State Department of Corrections

5 of 16

Cedar Creek Corrections Center in Littlerock, Wash.

Green improvements are typically focused on construction, but the Cedar Creek Corrections Center focuses on green behavior. About 60 inmates at the Washington state medium security facility are selected to participate in a program in which they compost the prison’s food waste, grow organic vegetables, collect rainwater for gardens, raise bees, and hand-sort recyclables. Mother Jones reported that some inmates are assisting with biological research by raising endangered Oregon spotted frogs. Washington state’s co-director of the Sustainable Prisons Project, Dan Pacholke, told Mother Jones that the program brings savings and an added element of safety to the prison. “Any prison system will tell you that idleness is a bad thing. If we don’t have stuff for them to do then we’re just going to hire more staff.”