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Environmental initiatives

This innovatively designed report is an excellent examination of how a prison could become more sustainable and save costs. "Institutional establishments with long-term residents, such as prisons, which use a significant amount of resources can reduce their energy, food and water costs by using sustainable practices. These practices can help reduce the costs of prisoner housing and eventually lower costs to tax payers. This project focuses on a hypothetical retrofit of the Wilmot Department of Corrections (Wilmot D.O.C.) prison facility in Tucson, AZ." Sections of this report include: introduction; literature review—solar power, wastewater management, on site food production, and rehabilitation; case studies—Colorado Correctional Industries, ASPC Lewis, Sidwell Friends Middle School, New Orleans Parish, Disney's Living With the Land, Sustainable Prisons Project; site analysis; design—layout, greenhouses, constructed wetlands, composting fields, and workshops; and conclusions.

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The NIC Green Corrections Initiative seeks to increase awareness among corrections professionals about environmental issues related to the practice of corrections and focus attention on the need to make correctional facilities more energy and resource efficient. The initiative also explores the feasibility of introducing green-collar job readiness training programs in facilities, assessing the capability of correctional industries to adopt ”green” practices, and identifying strategies to assess cost saving options for correctional agencies that operate self-sustaining facilities and programs.

The NIC publication, The Greening of Corrections: Creating a Sustainable System, provides a background for this initiative and highlights four main recommendations for the greening of prisons and jails. 

Recommendation 1: Create a Sustainability Work Group

Recommendation 2: Hold a Retreat for Your Executive Team

Recommendation 3: Implement Budget Savings Strategies and Offender Employment Opportunities

Recommendation 4: Performance Management: Inspect What You Expect

The initial scope of the NIC Green Corrections Initiative included provision of technical assistance support for three states: Minnesota, Washington, and Maryland. These states worked to develop strategic plans for implementing or improving green corrections programs in their local area. A summary of the technical assistance results can be found in The Green Corrections Project: Action Plans and Lessons Learned. Project outcomes also included the creation of a community of practice to promote the use of green practices throughout country. From the community of practice and strategic plans, a framework for green corrections will be created and shared nationally.

The Green Corrections Challenge is one answer to capturing a wider array of opportunities. Through crowdsourcing, the Challenge calls on citizens, students, and professionals in criminal justice to contribute to the knowledge base of ideas available for being and doing "green"; in corrections.(content coming)

"On November 21, 2014, the Green Corrections Symposium convened professionals from the corrections community, as well as partners including reentry professionals, energy specialists, and education and workforce development experts. During the Symposium, winners of the Green Corrections Challenge, a video and presentation contest to demonstrate innovative green practices in the corrections community, were announced and viewed. Experts also spoke about best practices within the green corrections framework of correctional facilities, education and training, and reentry programs. Participants then answered a series of questions about lessons learned and application of these lessons. The following document summaries the notes from these conversations" (p. 1). Sections comprising this document are: Presentation and Discussion—Embedding Green Policies and Practices in Correctional Facilities; Presentation and Discussion—Embedding Green Policies and Practices in Education and Training; and Presentation and Discussion—Embedding Green Policies and Practices in Reentry Programs and Integrating Green Corrections Programming. Discussion points for each presentation were: what the top most important lessons learned from expert comments and winning Green Corrections Challenge presentations are, how you can apply what you have learned, and the resources or information needed to apply what you have learned. The final presentation theme included a fourth discussion point—what are the top most important lessons learned today regarding the integration of the pillars of facility operations, education and training, and reentry. The winning Challenge entries shown during this symposium were: FCC Victorville BOP (CA)—Putting Our Trash on Lockdown; Franklin County Sheriff's Office (OH)—Green Taskforce; Delaware Doc, Sussex County Community Corrections Center—Striving to Make a Difference in Sunny Sussex County; Reentry Programs: Wisconsin DOC for The Growth Academy; and New Green Corrections Concepts—Indiana DOC, Branchville for the Green and Giving Back.

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This program seeks to increase environmental awareness among corrections professionals and focuses attention on the need to make correctional facilities more energy and resource efficient. This broadcast:

  • Explores the feasibility of introducing green collar job readiness training programs
  • Assesses correctional industries capability to adopt “green” practices
  • And identifies strategies to assess cost saving options for correctional agencies to operate “self sustaining” facilities and programs.
Greening Corrections: People, Programs, and Practices [Satellite/Internet Broadcast held July 14, 2010] Cover

The strength of this article is in its discussion of an often forgotten part of greening a facility—the use of environmentally safe cleaning products and practices. The Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center in San Leandro, California is the green facility that has achieved LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

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“Your Source for News and Information on Environmentally Responsible Products and Services in the Corrections Industry.” Points of access are: about greenprisons; facility; newslinks; conferences; webinars; green programs; and resources.

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This is an excellent paper which "addresses two important but largely neglected questions: How will increased temperatures and heat waves caused by climate change affect prisons, jails, and their staff and inmate populations? And what can correctional departments do to prepare for greater heat and minimize the dangers it poses? … Until now, the implications of climate change for corrections have been largely disregarded by both correctional administrators and public officials working on climate adaptation policy. This paper begins the process of connecting the discussions of climate policy and correctional policy. It provides an overview of the correctional sector and its specific vulnerabilities to heat, explores relevant legal issues, and offers recommendations for adaptation to address unique challenges that climate change poses for corrections" (p. i). Sections following an executive summary include: introduction; overview of the correctional sector—jurisdictions and administration, existing facilities, inmate populations, correctional staff population; heat, corrections, and the law—inmate litigation, the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, legal action by correctional staff, policies and regulations concerning heat and climate control in corrections, mandated adaptation efforts, and the legal context for adaptation; adaptation challenges and options—the basics of adaptation, special challenges for corrections, and options; and conclusion. An appendix includes examples from various agencies of policies and regulations concerning heat and climate control in corrections.

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"The Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) is committed to sustainable operations to protect our natural environment and improve quality of life for healthier communities. Sustainable practices will protect our environment, save taxpayer money, and model positive practices to the adults in DOC" (p. 3). This publication illustrates how the Oregon DOC is working on increasing its sustainable operations. Topics covered include: the creation of a sustainable system; field mowing program; Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP); solar hot water; recycling; EarthWISE certification; animal rehabilitation; fuel efficiency; community involvement; LED lighting; geothermal and alternative energy efficiency; utility tracking; Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) reduction; organic gardening and composting; Canine Companions for Independence (CCI); eco-roof; Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP)—"buying green"; Oregon Accountability Model (OAM); conservation; and greenhouse ecology.

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“This white paper describes the issues facing corrections policy and leadership as the impacts of climate change and its related consequences confront departments, agencies, and facilities in coming years. Not only will corrections have to manage the effects of more extreme weather and temperatures than in the past. Corrections will also have to develop and improve its flexibility and resiliency in its operations to weather the multiple coming changes while maintaining its core functions of protecting the public, corrections staffs, and offenders” (p. 1). This publication will explain how you can deal with these challenges. Sections of this document include: introduction to climate change and corrections; the potential impact; the role of leadership; resilience-oriented leadership; and concluding observations.

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“Understanding what helps justice-involved American Indian (AI) youth to make positive changes in their lives and end or reduce their involvement in the tribal juvenile justice system is important for developing effective supports. This report presents perspectives on personal change among justice-involved AI youth who participated in the Tribal Juvenile Detention and Reentry Green Demonstration (“Green Reentry”) programs in three tribes.” Sections of this publication address: risk and protective factors affecting justice-involved AI youth; proposed culture-based protective factors—cultural identity, spirituality, and family and social connections; the Tribal Green Reentry programs—the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (RST), the Hualapai Indian Tribe, and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (MBCI); perspectives on youth change in the Green Reentry program—character (sense of responsibility, personal pride and self-worth, focus on long-term life goals) emotional health and well-being (emotional openness and trust, anger management, experience of more positive emotions, decreased substance use, better understanding of traditional teachings and practices, stronger cultural identity, and improved connections with elders), school engagement (better school attendance, reduced tardiness, improved progress toward a diploma or GED, felt safer and able to focus, and appreciation for practical skills), community engagement (enthusiasm for giving back to their communities, sense of belonging, feeling of accomplishment, and feeling more noticed and respected by elders), and interpersonal relationships (able to express themselves openly, show respect, receive more approval from their families, and create and maintain healthy boundaries); and the conclusion that the Green Reentry supports positive change among American Indian youth.

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