Inmates’ Zeal is the Key to Roots of Success in Ohio

by Christina Stalnaker, SPP Graduate Research Assistant

Women from the Ohio Reformatory for Women and Northeast Reintegration Center graduate from Roots of Success Facilitator Training.  This is the first time ODRC brought Roots to women's prisons.  Photo Credit: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Women from the Ohio Reformatory for Women and Northeast Reintegration Center graduate from Roots of Success Facilitator Training. This is the first time ODRC brought Roots to women’s prisons. Photo by Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

“Roots of Success was the core component that tied together our cultural change in environmental awareness. We had begun recycling and composting. We addressed energy and water conservation, but I knew we needed education to really reach the inmates. Roots of Success took our green initiatives to a new level; it led the change that allowed inmates to be part of the environmental awareness at SCC (Southeastern Correctional Complex). The passion I saw from the inmates was amazing.”

-Warden Sheri Duffey, the first Warden to bring Roots to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC)

In prison classrooms throughout Ohio, ODRC provides facilitator training for inmates to deliver Roots of Success, an environmental literacy curriculum. These facilitators will prepare fellow inmates for re-entry into the green economy. ODRC also leverages inmates’ new-found passion and environmental education to implement sustainability initiatives throughout their facilities. ODRC brought Roots of Success to its first institution in 2011. Leah Morgan, ODRC Energy Conservation & Sustainability Administrator, informs us that the program proved to be so successful that it is now implemented in 19 out of 26 institutions, with plans to expand into all facilities within the next year.

Lorain Correctional Institution recently hosted ODRC’s largest Roots of Success train-the-trainer course to date, including both men and women from their facilities. Photo by Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Morgan attributes the program’s success to their inmates, “Honestly, though, it wouldn’t have taken off the way it did without the passion of the inmates behind it. They LOVE this program.  We have long-term offenders trained and certified to facilitate the program, so a) it is not incredibly staff intensive, and b) it gives them meaningful work that they don’t normally have an opportunity to have.”

You can see video testimony from two of ODRC’s original trainers here:

Video by Roots of Success.

Video by Roots of Success.

Both Tony Simmons and Willie Lagway are Roots of Success Master Trainers at the Southeastern Correctional Complex in Lancaster.

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