Mission: We empower sustainable change by bringing nature, science, and environmental education into prisons.


In response to the dual crises of ecological degradation and mass incarceration, we aim to reduce recidivism while improving human well-being and ecosystem health. SPP brings together incarcerated individuals, scientists, corrections staff, students, and program partners to promote education, conserve biodiversity, practice sustainability, and help build healthy communities. Together, we reduce the environmental, economic, and human costs of prisons.


collaborate * learn * cultivate * grow * thrive

What that looks like

Butterfly technicians visit one of the program’s release sites. Photo by Keegan Curry.

The Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP) is a partnership founded by The Evergreen State College and Washington State Department of Corrections. With vital input from many additional partners, we develop and deliver a wide range of science, sustainability and environmental education programs in all 12 Washington State prisons. Recent highlights include:

  • In 2018, partners grew more than 246,700 lbs. of food and sent it to prison kitchens and food pantries.
  • Since 2011, SPP’s Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly program has reared more than 24,500 caterpillars and adult butterflies for release onto south Salish lowland prairies.
  • There are 12 honeybees programs in Washington State prisons! All those programs include formal education.
  • From July 2018 – June 2019, prisons diverted more than 2,245 tons of waste to composting and recycling.
  • Our report for July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019 describes more than 200 programs! See the summary or full text.

Technician Brian Bedilion pulls a tray of wetland plants out of the aquaponic bath. Photo by Ricky Osborne.

“I never did well in school and my skills were more on the manual labor side. While I was incarcerated at Cedar Creek Correction Center in 2015 thru 2018 I was given the opportunity to discover that I was wrong.”

Darin Armstrong, former SPP conservation technician

“What does science mean to me? Science is the study of the world around us…I would not want to experience life without science.”

Morris Talaga, SPP conservation nursery teaching assistant

Read more writing by incarcerated partners.

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