Since the first Earth Day in 1970, people from all walks of life have used the holiday as an opportunity to come together and pay special attention to their local environments. While communities around the world participate in activities to help protect the natural environment and promote environmental justice, for the millions of people in America’s prisons, jails and juvenile justice facilities, opportunities for this kind of engagement are much harder to come by. This is why Roots of Success is partnering with correctional institutions and criminal justice organizations across the country to provide offenders with opportunities to connect with nature and  reduce their environmental impact.

Roots of Success has been working with the Vera Institute of Justice and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections since 2011 to bring our curriculum to correctional facilities across Ohio, in support of their strategic sustainability plan. To date, long-term offenders in 11  facilities have been certified to teach the curriculum, including two who have obtained Master Trainer certification and will continue to certify instructors throughout the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections system. These instructors have gone on to graduate more than 600 students from Roots of Success, with many more classes on the way.

The impact that Roots of Success has on Ohio facilities is visible and growing. Some facilities are now providing inmates with opportunities to work to reduce the size of their facilities’ environmental footprint — including Marion Correctional Institution, where the ‘Green Initiative’ inmate group employs more than 100 incarcerated men in green jobs throughout the facility. Inmates involved in Roots of Success at Marion also organized an Earth Day celebration last week to educate other inmates about “going green.”

Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 5.29.11 PMA recent article in the The Columbus Dispatch  highlights a pilot project at the Ohio Reformatory for Women that aims to reduce recidivism among female inmates by preparing them for emerging careers in the green economy. In addition to Roots of Success, inmates complete classes on financial literacy, problem solving for reentry, employability skills, renewable energy technologies and weatherization. To apply what they are learning, the women are now making energy efficiency improvements to buildings within the prison and carefully calculating the impact their efforts — in cost savings and reduced carbon emissions. “This is opening a door” explains Caprice (pictured above), one of  the programs’ leaders and a certified Roots of Success instructor, “I could be somebody’s boss someday. Or own my own company.”

Interested in the Prisons, Jails & Juvenile Justice Facilities version of Roots of Success? Contact for more information about brining Roots of Success to your program, or to request access to a curriculum sampler.