What We Do

Doing good while doing time—that’s the SPP mantra. We encourage everyone in our community, including incarcerated men and women, to act as ambassadors for scientific, environmental, and pro-social practices. Toward this end, our activities focus on four areas:

EDUCATION AND TRAINING

Education thumbnail

We inspire and train inmates and correctional staff through programs designed to improve prison sustainability and connect participants to the larger world of science and conservation. Our instructors range from biologists and farmers to business entrepreneurs and green energy experts.

 

CONSERVATION AND SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH

Science thumbnailWith support from visiting scientists, we carry out ecological research and conservation projects involving inmates, college students and community partners. Current projects include rearing endangered Oregon spotted frogs and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies and propagating native prairie plants.

 

SUSTAINABLE OPERATIONS

Operations thumbnailWe help correctional staff develop cost-effective, environmentally sound practices for operating prisons and engage offenders with direct responsibility for these activities where security is in place. Activities include recycling, composting, energy retrofits, updating purchasing policies, and organic farming.

COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTIONS

dog-training-2SPP offers inmates opportunities to contribute to both inside and beyond the prison walls. Prison partnerships with nearby community organizations allow inmates to provide service dogs, restored bicycles, quilts, and fresh vegetables to individuals on the outside.

 

SPP programs are in place at all twelve Washington state prisons, with sustainable operations and community contributions programs represented in every facility. Washington’s prisons represent a broad spectrum of population size, gender, security level and infrastructure, which maximizes the extensibility of this project to other locations. SPP serves as a model for prisons in other states and around the world, and also for residential institutions such as military bases, assisted living centers, and summer camps.

Another SPP priority is tracking and evaluating our work. We document how our programs are received and the many outcomes: reductions in energy consumption, numbers of frogs raised and lectures offered, and pounds of produce donated. We also work with professional evaluators and students to assess the impacts of SPP on knowledge, behavior and attitudes of all participants.