The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin — a daily newspaper serving the Walla Walla Valley area of Washington state — recently published two in-depth articles praising the impact of Roots of Success on the Washington State Department of Corrections, and profiling their emerging sustainability programs.
Earlier this year, 21 inmates and staff from Department of Corrections facilities across Washington state were trained and certified to teach the Prisons, Jails & Juvenile Justice Facilities version of Roots of Success. After being trained, inmate-instructors quickly began delivering Roots of Success to their peers, which in turn spurred the development of innovative sustainability projects aimed at addressing a variety of environmental issues raised throughout the course. The Sustainable Practices Lab, which is housed in a large vacant building that used to be the prison’s sign shop and garment factory, provides inmates with a lab and work-space where they can develop their sustainable projects and inventions.
“A bicycle repair program was one of the first endeavors to get under way,” one article explains; bikes are collected through local partnerships, repaired, rehabilitated, and then distributed through charity organizations to underprivileged families and children in the community. Inmates interested in supporting sustainable agriculture have also begun a worm breeding and compositing operation, which already boasts a population of over 1.5 million red worms, who can eat upwards of 800 pounds of food waste from the prison each week and provide valuable “vermicasting” and “worm tea” fertilizers for the penitentiary’s gardens. Another group, working mostly by hand, meticulously cuts and sews donated fabrics to create quilts, stuffed toys, diaper bags and other items to donate to local charities — in addition to repairing and modifying clothes and garments used by prisoners and staff, saving the facility thousands of dollars.
“The nice thing about this is you’re doing it for charity,” said Tony Williams, who works in the green quilting and sewing shop, “it’s fun to do because you know you’re giving back to the community.” “I can see where people get addicted to it,” explains Scott Davis (pictured right) when asked his work. Instructor Keith Parkins sees a clear connection between the sustainability movement and the education he provides fellow-inmates with Roots of Success: “we take stuff that has been thrown away, make it useful and then give it back to the economy” he explained to Union-Bulletin reporters “[and] we’re doing the same thing with inmates, giving them something they can give back to the outside.”
Roots of Success for Prisons & Jails is the go-to curriculum for correctional institutions working to achieve sustainability goals, conserve resources, reduce costs, and prepare offenders for employment opportunities in the green economy upon re-entry. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about brining Roots of Success to your program, or to request access to a curriculum sampler.