Pandora Thomas spoke about this at the most recent Northwest Permaculture Convergence. It was part of a larger discussion about making permaculture more inclusive. Learning about these programs was one of my favorite parts of her presentation.
Candidates for this project are current incarcerated individuals and high-risk formerly incarcerated individuals released within the past 3 years from Bay Area prisons and jails who are in the process of reentry to distressed communities in Alameda County.
Our project is designed to provide a continuous and supportive reentry pathway that begins while still incarcerated, and moves seamlessly to post release services. We will work with over 150 incarcerated individuals of San Quentin directly through their permaculture garden project, and will work as advisors and consultants with other prison gardens across the Bay Area that will reach an additional 100. As they are released, participants will be funneled into intensive services provided outside of the prison.
I currently live near a town where one of the major employers is a prison, where another major employer (a paper mill) recently shuttered, and where even the library is flyered by the state telling folks where to get help for their addictions. Not only major cities, but every small, rural Prison Town could use programs like this...especially because Prison Towns have a depressing effect on local property values, making it cheaper to get land for such programs in the immediate area.
On the other hand, permaculture farms local to prisons would have to be checked against abuses of formerly-incarcerated peeps, who as a group would be even more vulnerable than woofers or unpaid interns. Hmm..
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Devious Experiments for a Truly Passive Greenhouse!