One of GreenPrisons’ most enduring partnerships has been making news lately. Founder, director and class facilitator Beth Waitkus began Insight Garden Program (IGP) in 2002, and has continued to grow and expand her operation. Noted most for the program’s success in San Quentin State Prison in California, IGP has since expanded operations to Solano, another California State Prison and that program is being extended into Solano’s medical facility soon. IGP is an educational program teaching gardening skills to offenders that has had measurable success in reducing recidivism and giving inmates legitimate tools and tangible skills for life after incarceration. IGP was recently highlighted on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer.
IGP teaches the inmates not just the basics of growing a plant but the long term impact their work can have. It connects with inmates on a level that many security staff, and even many other program staff, would never be able to do. It provides a different world within the fence for the inmates. It teaches them the long term effect of hard work, and it teaches them to connect with others and defuses their stress.
For the prisons themselves, the program reduces long-term costs by reducing recidivism. It has brought down the number incidents as the inmates will even testify to. The IGP is certainly a key player in the ever evolving and rapidly growing nationwide trend of dual purpose programs. It addresses issues that are important to administrators and the community and it is helping cultivate an eco-friendly and conscious member of society when the offender is released. Renewable and eco-friendly programs like the Insight Garden Program are here to stay and GreenPrisons is proud to have them as a partner!