The Green Corrections Challenge-National Institute of Corrections

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Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2014/04/green-corrections-challenge-national-institute-corrections/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes:  From the nation’s capital this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host Leonard Sipes. The program today is Green Corrections produced by the National Institute of Corrections. We have two guests by our microphones. From Oklahoma via Skype, Mike Connelly. He is an instructor at the University of Oklahoma. And by our microphone we have Stephanie Davison; she is a Program Manager for FHI 360. The program, again, is Greening of Corrections. And we have an exciting announcement, ladies and gentlemen. We have a Green Corrections Challenge today. And I want to give out a couple websites, NICIC, National Institute of Corrections, nicic.gov/greencorrections and nicic.gov/greencorrectionschallenge. To Mike and Stephanie welcome to DC Public Safety.

Stephanie Davison:  Thanks for having us.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Mike Connelly:  Yeah. Thank you.

Len Sipes:  All right, now, Stephanie, I’m going to start off with you. What is Green Corrections?

Stephanie Davison:  Green Corrections are the multiple ways that the corrections community can be engaged in sustainable and cost saving activities.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Stephanie Davison:  It ranges from greening facilities to reentry programs and everything in between.

Len Sipes:  What we’re trying to do is to be environmentally friendly within the correctional system. And that is the last conversation we had. That creates jobs, does it not, within the correctional institutions?

Stephanie Davison:  Both in the correctional institutions and outside, as offenders are exiting, it can.

Len Sipes:  Okay. So this is a win-win situation for everybody and it does save money for institutions, ordinarily gobs of money, correct?

Stephanie Davison:  Yes. States can save millions of dollars a year if they plan their programs well.

Len Sipes:  And last time that we did this program we had guests on who did talk about immense savings within their own states, right?

Stephanie Davison:  Yes. For example, Washington State, a composting program at one facility can save $30,000 a year.

Len Sipes:  Okay. So we’re just not talking about 30,000, the different states that we were talking about, millions of dollars of savings. And state correctional agencies are constantly looking for ways to save money. So this is a way of saving money, a way of being environmentally participatory, as well as providing jobs for inmates within the correctional institution. So this is a win-win-win for everybody.

Stephanie Davison:  I would add one more piece to it.

Len Sipes:  Yeah, please.

Stephanie Davison:  As offenders become more engaged in their environment and their community there can be a rehabilitation aspect to it.

Len Sipes:  Oh, that’s right. I mean we’re talking about a reentry component to this –

Stephanie Davison:  Yes.

Len Sipes:  Because they can take, these are transferable skills that they can take out into the community.

Stephanie Davison:  Yes, absolutely.

Len Sipes:  Okay. And one of those transferable skills being, we were talking about mulching a little while ago, was going into the landscaping business on the outside. I mean this could be a real bridge for a lot folks leaving the prison system, going out and finding jobs, correct?

Stephanie Davison:  Yes.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Stephanie Davison:  Building competencies and skills through those programs.

Len Sipes:  Mike Connelly, you’re, again, an instructor at the University of Oklahoma and you have quite a correctional background we were talking about before hitting the start button. Can you tell me and tell the audience a little bit about your background?

Mike Connelly:  Well, my position before I went to University of Oklahoma was basically handle the research office for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. Before that I was the Executive Director of Sentencing Commissions in Wisconsin and Maryland and I also have done work with the Justice Research and Statistics Association working with the Bureau of Justice Assistance on technical assistance to state and local community criminal justice agencies evaluation projects.

Len Sipes:  So the bottom line is that you’ve got a heck of a corrections background.

Mike Connelly:  Or I just can’t keep a job, one or the other.

Len Sipes:  No. I think it’s a heck of a corrections background. All right, before we get into Green Corrections, because I do want to have an exploration of what is Green Corrections, where is it going, what’s happening with that, we have a Green Corrections Challenge. In fact, we’re announcing it on this program. I’m very proud that the National Institute of Corrections has chosen this program to announce the Green Corrections Challenge. What is the Green Corrections Challenge, Stephanie?

Stephanie Davison:  The challenge is a video contest that engages states, students in criminal justice programs, basically anybody interested in corrections, into entering a video about their green innovation. We figure people on the ground know what’s best and we should be learning from each other.

Len Sipes:  All right, so the whole idea is for them to submit video pieces, and that could be through their cell phones, that could be through their Smartphones, it could be through their video cameras. It doesn’t have to be, I would imagine, a professional piece. Anything that documents what is happening in correctional facilities regarding Green Corrections, right?

Stephanie Davison:  Yes. They should visit nicic.gov/greencorrectionschallenge –

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Stephanie Davison:  For the rules.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Stephanie Davison:  But they can make a video up to seven minutes –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Stephanie Davison:  It could be 30 seconds if it really captures it –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Stephanie Davison:  Telling the story of what their innovation is and the impact it’s had.

Len Sipes:  I want to see these. I want to see these, because when you say Green Corrections, and then Donna Ledbetter from the National Institute of Corrections first proposed a Green Corrections program, the first time we did this I’m saying to myself, “Wait a minute. This doesn’t all that interesting.” When you get into it’s very interesting, because it hits every facet of correctional life. So the videos could be what? Give me some ideas as to what these videos could be.

Stephanie Davison:  So they could range, they could be something like an energy performance contract and how an energy system is retrofitted. Or it could be a gardening program. It could be a reentry program where people are reentering into society, learning a skill in a green field. It might be something completely that we haven’t thought of, maybe related to correctional industries, a new way of manufacturing –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Stephanie Davison:  Within a facility.

Len Sipes:  Anything that saves money while being environmentally friendly, that’s what you’re looking for.

Stephanie Davison:  Yes.

Len Sipes:  Now that could be anything.

Stephanie Davison:  It could be anything. We would like people to focus on activities that could be replicated.

Len Sipes:  Right. But I mean that could be a different fuel within –

Stephanie Davison:  Absolutely.

Len Sipes:  The vehicles that correctional personnel use. So that could be a different kind of lighting as long as it doesn’t affect security. That could be beautifying the grounds of correctional facilities. One of the things when I spent my 14 years in the state of Maryland and went into every correctional facility multiple times was how beautiful, this is going to be a contradiction, how beautiful some of these correctional facilities were because they were maintained by inmates who took great pride in terms of how the grounds inside the wire, and outside the wire, if they were on minimum security, looked. I remember bringing visitors and media into some of our correctional facilities and they were astounded as to how nice they looked. So that’s Green Corrections as well. So this has an effect on morale of the correctional staff, this has effect on the morale of the inmates who are in these facilities. It can go on and on and on in terms of what Green Corrections is.

Stephanie Davison:  Absolutely. I love going and hearing stories from Washington State where they say when you’re in the yard it’s so much more calm, because offenders are actively participating in green practices such as gardening and landscaping. Now, Mike Connelly, now as an instructor at the University of Oklahoma are you teaching this, are you a proponent of this. I’m quite sure you were, because you’re on the radio program today. Where do you see the role of Green Corrections going?

Len Sipes:  Well, from the standpoint of state budgets, for example, I think Stephanie’s point early on about the cost savings that are generated from a Green Corrections approach is going to become even more important to facilities on state and local levels for the coming years. We’re looking at a situation where our fastest inmate groups, the aging population of inmates, those that are 50 years of age and older, those with mental health issues, which is not always the same group, physical health problems requiring medical treatment, those groups they add cost to the correctional budgets far beyond what we would call I guess the average costs of an offender would be, and those are groups that are growing the fastest. And so one of the problems that we face is not just that the prison populations are growing, but even the cost of many of those offenders grow at the same time, that we’re trying to divert a lot of offenders from prison. But if you look at a lot of the efforts to divert offenders, the offenders who would be diverted by most of the reform proposals out there are not the ones who are adding to the cost. The average, the rule of thumb for an aging offender, for example, as a cost to the correctional system is like three times the cost of the average offender.

And so and that’s going to vary obviously from the 50 to 60-year-olds as a rule won’t cost as much as the 60 to 70-year-olds and so on. But what that means is that even if we divert people, we’re successful in reducing our prison populations, even if we divert people, if they’re the ones who are the average cost offenders, and we’re increasing our aging or mental health need offenders. At the same time, for example, we would have to divert 300 offenders, the average cost for every 100 of the people who age in, at that 3 to 1 ratio. And that really doesn’t get talked about probably as much as it should. And so we’re looking at that just on top of the normal types of pressures or triggers for correctional population growth in terms of the general population growing and incarceration rates staying the same and also just the problems of state and local governments being able to keep up with the costs that are associated with it right now. It’s a rare state that is in good shape in their correctional budgets. And so one of the things Green Corrections does, as Stephanie said, is to force concentration on how do you best manage your resources and I think that will become more important as the resources don’t keep up any better than they already have been doing at the state and local levels.

Len Sipes:  Either one of you. Mandates and regulations oftentimes serve as a catalyst to implement Green Corrections. I would imagine there are EPA requirements; I would imagine there are state requirements. Stephanie, do you want to take a shot at that?

Stephanie Davison:  Yeah, absolutely. So what I find in most states is the biggest trigger for a state correctional agency to implement energy savings are a governor’s requirement –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Stephanie Davison:  To lower those energy usages.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Stephanie Davison:  And it’s very difficult within the correctional environment because you have people living there 24/7.

Len Sipes:  Sure.

Stephanie Davison:  It’s easier for other agencies that are doing it to office space.

Len Sipes:  I would imagine in terms of having experience and in terms of building prisons, I don’t remember the term Green Corrections coming up. I would assume that in terms of constructing correctional facilities Green Corrections is now an integral component of that construction process.

Stephanie Davison:  Absolutely. The American Institute of Architects has a special Green Corrections subgroup that leads it. Actually the leader of that group helped facilitate the writing of the Greening of Corrections Guidebook, as well as LEED, which is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design by the US Green Building Council, has components that can be applied to Green Corrections.

Len Sipes:  So there are mandates I would imagine governors throughout the country, throughout the territories are saying to their correctional administrators, “Hey, this is something you need to do.”

Stephanie Davison:  Yes. Both reduce energy and sometimes have a LEED certified building.

Len Sipes:  Okay. And that’s why they end up with the National Institute of Corrections and that’s one of the reasons why we’re doing this program today, to assist people in terms of ideas, and also, again, at nicic.gov/greencorrections, and to invite ideas from the community in terms of nicic.gov/greencorrectionschallenge, right?

Stephanie Davison:  Absolutely.

Len Sipes:  All right, so partners can play an important role in the development of Green Corrections. Who wants to take that?

Stephanie Davison:  I can address that.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Stephanie Davison:  So partnership happens at various levels. We’re thinking about it through the challenge of how states can look at other effective practices. States can also do exchange programs. I often find when one correctional officer visits a facility in another state they come back with ten new ideas –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Stephanie Davison:  That they can implement. That healthy challenge and also learning from each other is critical.

Len Sipes:  And that’s one of the reasons that the National Institute of Corrections exists at all is to exchange information with hundreds of people throughout the United States and the territories so they can figure out the best way of doing things. I mean that’s the hallmark of the National Institute of Corrections and that’s one of the reasons why the National Institute of Corrections is picking up on Green Corrections.

Stephanie Davison:  Absolutely.

Mike Connelly:  You know –

Len Sipes:  Go ahead, Mike.

Mike Connelly:  One of the areas that we need to focus on too I think are the community partnerships with churches, for example. A lot of the offenders, [INDISCERNIBLE 00:13:56] offenders, are going back to communities that will be heavily hit in the future, are being heavily hit, a number of them are what we call food deserts. And as a result, working with the churches, working with the nonprofit agencies in those types of communities to do the sort of thing that Stephanie was talking about, about working offenders into, working their skills that they’ve learned in Green Corrections back into those communities when they come back will be important.

And we actually investigated briefly, it didn’t happen, but we investigated briefly working with one of the large hospital centers in Oklahoma City at one point because they have wellness programs both for their employees and for employee families and they’re interested obviously in the health and medical care of the general community. And we explored for a while working with them to develop a kind of community garden setting in one of their properties. They weren’t able to; there was a water issue that kept us from doing that. But we were really surprised about how – we had never really thought hospitals as being a potential partner for this sort of thing, but until we got to the point where – you do tend to need water for gardens – but till we got to that point it looked like we might be able to really afford a good partnership with someone that we had never really thought of at all.

Len Sipes:  Well, the bottom is that who’s not your partner when it comes to Green Corrections because it applies to so many people in so many ways.

Mike Connelly:  Right.

Len Sipes:  But we’re more than halfway through the program. I do want to introduce, reintroduce the topic. It’s Green Corrections. The program is produced by the National Institute of Corrections. Mike Connelly is an instructor at the University of Oklahoma. Stephanie Davison – Davison –?

Stephanie Davison:  Yeah.

Len Sipes:  Is a Program Manager for FHI 360. What is FHI 360, Stephanie?

Stephanie Davison:  FHI 360 is a human development organization dedicated to improving lives in lasting ways.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Stephanie Davison:  We take locally driven solutions and work in all 50 states.

Len Sipes:  All right, the program is really, I think, exciting in terms of the fact that we are saving state and federal correctional agencies literally millions of dollars through this use of Green Corrections, and if you’re interested in information on Green Corrections, nicic.gov/greencorrections. If you’re interested in the challenge, which is submitting a video up to seven minutes, and, again, it doesn’t have to be a professionally done video, it could be any video of what’s happening in terms of Green Corrections, in terms of any correctional facility, it could be mainline corrections, it could be community corrections, it could be offender reentry, nicic.gov/greencorrectionschallenge, greencorrectionschallenge.

All right, now in terms of measuring the success of this program, you talk about understanding the consumption of waste, water and energy use is critical to measuring reduction in use, which could be difficult in older facilities. Many states have data tracking systems for energy where they can compare information from utility bills. For waste and water consumption other measures may be necessary, a new recycling program, for example, may measure waste and recycling on a weekly basis, and also monetizing savings. So there’s a variety of ways that different correctional facilities, Stephanie, can take a look at this and measure their results.

Stephanie Davison:  Yeah. So I’d say most states go through four steps. They set a baseline and analyze current use. They implement a program. They measure use. And then they tweak it. So in the state of Maryland they’re looking at energy systems based on utility bills and tracking from there. The state of Alabama just signed a contract with Johnson Controls to look at how much they’re going to be saving in one particular facility based on certain activities that will be implemented.

Len Sipes:  Okay, all right. And this is important in terms of the buy-in of the correctional personnel at that facility. Now, look, I’ve been around corrections for a quarter of a century. It’s a tough job. Any correctional facility is just a really tough place to be. We have some people in there who are not the easiest to manage. Correctional officers are under an enormous amount of stress and strain. So we’ve got to get buy-in from correctional staff if Green Corrections is going to successful, correct?

Stephanie Davison:  Yes. That’s true.

Len Sipes:  All right, Michael, the question goes to you. So if we have the – we have to have buy-in by correctional staff, by the administration, by the average correctional officers. How difficult is that when you mention the words Green Corrections to them?

Mike Connelly:  Well, I think, well, it’s very difficult, obviously. But I think there are things that you can do to facilitate all that, one of them is exactly what Stephanie’s proposing with these videos and the dissemination of them. I think one of the most successful ways of dealing with this is just to take advantage of the interest of staff and the managers in the facilities in doing better with their resources as they’re having to triage and cut back and demonstrate to them that’s it’s not something that’s just out there, where you’re talking about tree huggers and all that sort of thing, but it’s something that actually has an impact and gets around whatever predispositions that they bring to it.

You’re talking about something that in the long run, actually as Stephanie alluded to, is going to make the facility in most cases a safer place to be and a more efficient place to be and just a more congenial place to be. And there are enough places out there that have experience with this that if they’re promoted and the people who have led to the point where they are, such as the Sustainability in Prisons Program that you see in Washington and now extending to Oregon and so on, have the spokespeople for those programs be available to kind of lead the way. You find your successes, you promote them, you send their leaders around, and you answer questions from these folks when you present to them. And then within the facility or within your system, as some move forward and others don’t, you make special effort to recognize and reward and award the people who are actually making the effort and over time that should have a payoff as well. Don’t you think that’s true, Stephanie, I mean?

Stephanie Davison:  Absolutely. I see promoting leadership of the people on the ground who are going to be making the changes over time will have the biggest success. When you look at Washington State, as you mentioned, Dan, who’s the leader of the Sustainable Prisons Project, started out as an officer and has moved up to the second ranking position within the state in the field of corrections.

Len Sipes:  Well, I want to you a story from a prison Maryland’s lower eastern shore where they went through a lot to maintain the yard and beautify the yard basically using recyclable materials. And the place looked nice, it really did. And anytime you walked inside of that prison you were sort of surprised by how nice the grounds looked. There was a disturbance at that correctional facility and the inmates involved in the disturbance went to great length not to bother the plants and everything else, the shrubbery and the plants that they erected. So it seems to me that they even during tough times took pride in what they had and that had to, it shows that that this is something that was important to them, which creates safer institutions. I think, Michael, I think you’re right. I think Green Corrections creates safer saner correctional institution and makes it a nicer place for correctional staff and inmates. And I think that that’s maybe not an issue that’s brought up enough.

Mike Connelly:  Oh, I agree. I think that’s how it has to be promoted. I think just everybody hears that you need to change your light bulbs and you need to get a more fuel efficient car and all that and I think you become kind of immune to those types of admonitions. But it’s when you’re able to relate it to their day to day work activity, they’re able to see the progress like you’re describing right there, and they’re able to take ownership of it both as offenders and as staff, that you’re going to end up seeing that long-term institutionalization and that commitment to it by staff. And when the people come in, when you have turnover, they’ll get oriented to it in the same way.

Len Sipes:  Are we retrofitting prisons and correctional facilities to make them more energy efficient, is that possible? A lot of the prisons that I experienced in Maryland were just old facilities and they had to be terribly inefficient from an energy saving’s point of view.

Stephanie Davison:  Yes. Older facilities that can be retrofitted are usually the places where you have the easiest gains; they’re sort of the low hanging fruit for energy savings.

Len Sipes:  But it’s not like any other building, it’s not like an apartment building, it’s a high-security facility. So retrofitting can be really difficult within the correctional setting.

Stephanie Davison:  Right. Which is why partnership really comes in.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Stephanie Davison:  Relying on your state Department of Energy, relying on utility companies that have expertise can really be helpful. And then you can have energy performance contracts. So if the state enters into that and they don’t save $400,000 a year, that company has to give them that money. It’s guaranteed savings.

Len Sipes:  Mike, and then we’re talking about correctional industries. Correctional industries, most people may not know this; it is the job creation part, the job training part within correctional facilities throughout the country, correctional industries. I mean in Maryland, my heavens, it was meat processing, it was [PH 00:24:34] sewing, it was manufacturing. I mean everybody understands that the prisons make license plates. That’s part of correctional industries. But it goes so much more. I mean I even had inmates doing my reading articles from newspapers throughout the state and doing a daily analysis for me. So correctional industries can be an important part of this, right?

Mike Connelly:  Yeah, definitely. It can. I mean one of the concerns that you usually run across with correctional industries is that they’re going to be competing in some way with private industries and you get people complaining about that. But one of the things about there is such a need for both skill levels in the parts of the offenders but also for the materials, that if there were states to start or continue along lines developing their correctional industries to supply those needs to the businesses that are forming around Green Corrections, and green economy is one of the growing areas of our economy, the correctional industries had to play a much, much bigger role both in preparation of the offenders and in doing the supplying of more than – we would buy our desks and chairs and things like that at DOC in Oklahoma, but there’s no reason in the world why the materials that you’re talking about, the retrofitting for – if you’re talking about some of the water harvesting and conservation sorts of things that could be going on, that could be done in ways that would actually probably be beneficial to the businesses that are out there and not necessarily get in the way or cause any kind of political problems with the usual constituencies.

Len Sipes:  Which gets us right back to job creating. We only have a couple minutes left. One of the things that I did want to point out, that there’s a document called the Greening of Corrections:  Creating a Sustainable System. And that can be accessed through the National Institute of Corrections library. And, again, the website for Green Corrections is nicic.gov/greencorrections. Stephanie, if somebody orders the book, what will they see when they order this manual from the National Institute of Corrections?

Stephanie Davison:  So within the guidebook it highlights four areas of corrections that you might want to quote, unquote “green”. One being the facility itself, one being your education and training program, next is reentry, and then also correctional industries, finally, there also sort of a checklist and how-to for how you would implement within your own state or locality.

Len Sipes:  Well, before we end the program I do want to get back to Green Correction Challenge nicic.gov/greencorrectionschallenge. I mean in essence the National Institute of Corrections is crowd sourcing ideas and asking the larger community to submit those videos. Again, it’s up to how many minutes, seven minutes?

Stephanie Davison:  Up to seven minutes.

Len Sipes:  But it could be a 30 second buy-in video.

Stephanie Davison:  Absolutely. Anything that gives us a picture of what you’re doing and how someone else could replicate it.

Len Sipes:  And, again, it could be shot on your cell phone, your tablet, it doesn’t have to be a big fancy production, you’re just talking about a bit of documentation in terms of what’s happening.

Stephanie Davison:  Yeah. Tell us your story, formally or informally.

Len Sipes:  Tell us you story. And you’re going to be taking all of these videos and doing what with them, advertising [OVERLAY] –?

Stephanie Davison:  That’s great. In October we will be holding a symposium in which challenge winners will be announced, we’ll also be hosting these online, and then doing a series of webinars featuring the best practices that we’ve seen in the videos.

Len Sipes:  Wouldn’t it be nice, instead of the public’s perception of correctional facilities as dark and dank places, where they see all of the shrubbery and the flowers and the beautification projects going on, wouldn’t that be a nicer image of what corrections is and how people can relate to the fact that the greenery and the recycling has or could have a positive effect on the lives of the people who’ve got to go into that institution every day?

Stephanie Davison:  Absolutely. If people could really see how Green Corrections can help an offender reintegrate into their community and be a benefit to that community, that would be a best case scenario.

Len Sipes:  Because, Michael, we have 30 seconds. The bottom line in all of this is that, again, as you said, this creates jobs. I mean it’s one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy is not Green Corrections, but environmentally friendly practices. So the person comes out of the prison system, he’s qualified for a variety of jobs in that green community.

Mike Connelly:  Yeah. And that’s something that is going to require our correctional leadership to reorient themselves to really thinking along those lines and making sure that they’re receptive and they’re making sure that everyone below them down the organization understands this is a priority [OVERLAY].

Len Sipes:  All right, Mike, you’ve got the final word with that, because we do have to close. Our guests today have been Mike Connelly; he’s an instructor at the University of Oklahoma. Stephanie Davison is a Program Manager for FHI 360. The program today has been on Green Corrections produced by the National Institute of Corrections, Donna Ledbetter specifically, we always thank her for her wonderful programs. It’s called the Greening of Corrections at nicic.gov/greencorrections, and that video challenge, nicic.greencorrectionschallenge. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments, we even appreciate your criticisms, and have yourselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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Green Corrections’ Impact on Cost Savings and Reentry-National Institute of Corrections-DC Public Safety

Welcome to “DC Public Safety” – Radio and television shows, blog and transcripts on crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

The portal site for “DC Public Safety” is http://media.csosa.gov.

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2013/04/green-corrections-impact-on-cost-savings-and-reentry-national-institute-of-corrections-dc-public-safety/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. We have a really interesting show today, ladies and gentlemen. We have a show on green corrections which is more than the concept sounds. What we’re talking about is economic development, what we’re talking about is saving millions of dollars for state correctional facilities throughout the United States. We’re also talking about inmate training today and using green corrections as a way of transitioning offenders from the prison system to the larger community. We have via Skype from the State of Washington, Washington Department of Corrections, Dan Pacholke. He is assistant secretary, www.doc.ua.gov. Also, we have Stephanie Davison. She is a senior program officer for FHI360, www.fhi360.org. Again, both Dan and Stephanie are here to talk about green corrections. Dan and Stephanie, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Dan Pacholke: Thank you.

Stephanie Davison: Thank you.

Len Sipes: All right. Good. Before we start, what is FHI360, Stephanie?

Stephanie Davison: FHI is an international development organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals internationally.

Len Sipes: Okay and you’re under contract to the National Institute of Corrections which is the producer of today’s show, Donna Ledbetter, was kind enough to set up this show today. So you’re under contract to the National Institute of Corrections of the US Department of Justice, correct?

Stephanie Davison: Yes, we’ve coordinated several activities for green corrections through NIC for the last few years.

Len Sipes: All right. Stephanie, the first question goes to you. What in the name of heavens is green corrections?

Stephanie Davison: Green corrections is a series of programs in which correctional system can operate the prison system to be more environmentally friendly and hopefully save money and then also operate education and training programs for offenders geared toward job placement once they exit.

Len Sipes: And that’s pretty interesting because we’re talking before the program, Dan, that the State of Washington had save, what, well over $3 million by implementing green corrections?

Dan Pacholke: Yes and between the years 2005 and 2010, we saved about $3.5 million by using basically, you know, environmental greening principles.

Len Sipes: And give me a sense as to what you mean by environmentally friendly principles?

Dan Pacholke: Well, I mean – I mean some of it comes down to reducing your carbon footprint. We have zero waste garbage sorting centers, composting. We’ve done a lot on different energy packages, strategies to save water, strategies to save waste water, so just in some of those bulk areas about, you know, ways in which you spend money that aren’t wise or unproductive so we’ve reduce a lot of expenditures in those areas and ultimately we’ve asked questions about why we buy things only to throw them away and try to eliminate those items upstream also.

Len Sipes: People don’t understand, Dan, that the correctional systems are like big cities and I don’t know how many prisons that you operate there in the State of Washington but each and every one of them – when I was with the Maryland Department of Public Safety, we had 23 correctional facilities throughout the state. They all held between 2000 to 3000 individuals. I mean they were operating like little cities so there are, I would imagine, endless opportunities to go green and save any state a tremendous amount of money.

Dan Pacholke: Absolutely. I mean there’s what, 2.3 million people incarcerated in federal state and county prisons and jails across the country.

Len Sipes: Right.

Dan Pacholke: And as you look at some of these strategies that, you know, as we’ve kind of talk about it, at least a couple of them, you know, we’re giving you examples of a relatively mid-sized prison system so if you apply that you know across the country I mean there’s lots and lots of money that can be saved just in the sense of savings and on top of that you can begin to use prison as a mechanism to assist a community in meeting other needs as well.

Len Sipes: Well, it’s an amazing concept. I’m really enjoying this because in this day and age where all of us within the criminal justice system are charged with saving taxpayer dollars. I mean we would do that regardless but nevertheless. I mean this is one way of saving tax paid dollars and providing job training for people coming out of the prison systems. Stephanie Davison, why don’t you tell me a little bit about that concept of training people – training inmates for jobs in green corrections?

Stephanie Davison: Right. So training individuals for green jobs is very similar to training individuals for regular jobs. You’re just tweaking what you’ve done.

Len Sipes: Right.

Stephanie Davison: For example, FHI has worked with the State of Minnesota to green their programs in which we worked with their teachers to think about how to use green products and green training concepts…

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: …to connect inmates to jobs in green fields after exiting.

Len Sipes: But give me a sense as to what sort of jobs are we talking about.

Stephanie Davison: Sure [PH] jobs. So almost any job can be made green.

Len Sipes: Right.

Stephanie Davison: A common one would be carpentry. You may be using green cleaning products green finishing materials. You’ll also learn how to produce your products where you create less waste.

Len Sipes: Okay. But are there specific training like an electrician, like a plumber, like any other person involved in hard skills. I mean is there green corrections that would lead to a career path?

Stephanie Davison: It can, yes. There are a lot of green certifications. They’re valued in different ways within different communities throughout the US. For example the US Green Building Council has a lead certificate to do construction in green manners.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: That can be great. It requires some time so it’s not necessarily valued in every community.

Len Sipes: Right. But I mean there are hard and fast jobs where that inmate can come out into the community and find himself or herself employed as a result of being involved in green corrections.

Stephanie Davison: Yes. Some of the solid ones would be landscaping.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: That’s considered a green job. It’s something you can be trained within the correctional facility especially states like Washington have gardens that could be used to train offenders.

Len Sipes: Right.

Stephanie Davison: And then they can be – enter those sorts of jobs once they exit.

Len Sipes: Okay, Stephanie. Dan is not light up. So you’re going to have to answer this question. Why would the National Institute of Corrections, which is part of the bureau – Federal Bureau of Prisons, part of the US Department of Justice, why would the National Institute of Corrections care about green corrections? Why would they’d be involved?

Stephanie Davison: I think there are two reasons. One is it can save the taxpayer’s money…

Len Sipes: Right.

Stephanie Davison: …and, two, it can have benefits to the offender upon reentry.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: There are jobs. There are also some behavioral aspects that we can talk about different programs that can benefit an offender when they leave.

Len Sipes: Okay. Talk to me about the behavioral aspects.

Stephanie Davison: So there are some programs and I’ll let Dan jump into this little bit more such as dog training programs that they’ve learned or from experience can find that offenders within the yard are calmer. There’s less incidence of violence and then when they exit, reentry is often smoother.

Len Sipes: Dan, you mentioned in the pre-show about this concept of making safer correctional facilities. In the 14 years that I spent with Maryland Department of Public Safety, our philosophy was anything that made that day productive for that inmate created a safer prison facility. I would imagine you will go along with that thought?

Dan Pacholke: Absolutely and I believe that’s one of the reasons why NIC is interested. In addition to cost containment and cost savings for reentry, on top of that what you want to do is make for a safe operating environment in the prison both for the staff that work there and the offenders that live there as well. So part of what can be done, I supposed, in the greening effort is to create opportunities for an inmate to contribute and I use that word opportunity to contribute because it’s meaningful activity in the sense – from the sense of an inmate. So whether it’s dog restoration or training dogs or whether it’s working with endangered species, both plants and animals, or whether or not it’s contributing to scientific research, what the inmates gain from that is the sense that they’re contributing to a broader social need. It’s something your family can benefit from. It’s something the community can benefit from and what we’ve found is that inmates that are involved in those kinds of activities tend to be less likely to violate rules. It makes them more – a more therapeutic environment in that regard. So it does enhance institutional safety and ultimately begins to change the nature of prisons so that community partners and organization see a prison as a benefit to someone that can contribute to local geographic community needs and there are several states that are doing environmental restoration today.

Len Sipes: How many states are involved in green corrections, either one of you?

Stephanie Davison: I would say a large proportion of states are involved to one degree or another.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: For example, many states are involved just because the governor has set forward executive orders that reduce the set goals for energy reduction over time.

Len Sipes: Right and, Dan, give me an honest answer here. I’ve been in the criminal justice system for over 40 years and somebody came to me and said, Leonard, you’re now going to be doing green corrections. I would have sat there and went, eh? What is green corrections? Because the order came down on high from the governor’s office to reduce expenditures but when – after talking with you and talking with Stephanie, I get the sense that this has major payoffs economically, major payoffs in terms of the safety of the institution, and major payoffs in terms of reentry upon release.

Dan Pacholke: It does. I mean when you think of corrections, the center of the plate is always like evidence-based practices, doing things that reduce the likelihood that inmates reoffend upon release. Over the last five years, we’ve been in extremely lean economic times nationally…

Len Sipes: Yes.

Dan Pacholke: …and so we tend to engage in issues that are more on the margin that are complimentary to an evidence-based framework. So on the one hand, its low cost opportunities to program offenders, to get offenders involved in meaningful activity. Engage more offenders to make the prison safer. There is the environmental economics to it. They’re going to reduce the operating cost over a long period of time, over life cycles, and then, of course, you know there is the benefit to the community that kind of goes along with that, the reentry, the job training, the skills upon release. So it’s really complimentary to that framework and it begins to broaden kind of the scope of corrections in a way that we wouldn’t have done in good economic times. I think it is the product of tougher economic times where partners are reaching out for each other in order to accomplish a goal.

Len Sipes: All right. It’s taking lemons and making lemonade.

Dan Pacholke: Correct.

Len Sipes: Yeah, yeah I like that. Now, but help me with this sense and a lot of people that are going to be listening to this program today may not be familiar with the inside of prison systems. I have always maintained that you can walk inside of a prison and either feel that lack of tension or feel the tension almost instantaneously as soon as you walk in through the front door. Feel free to correct me, feel free to disagree, but a lot of the institutions that I’ve walked into in the past that have been based upon a therapeutic environment, based upon the inmates involved in lots of different things, their days are filled with different issues where – that they find humanizing. You can walk inside of that prison and immediately feel it. You can immediately feel the lack of tension because the inmates there are – again, they’re involved in constructive activities. I’m getting the sense that some of the things that we’re talking about with green correction fills that bill. Am I right or wrong?

Dan Pacholke: No, you’re absolutely right and you can certainly, you know, feel the difference in institutions that have a lot of activity than those that don’t in such attention. So, yes, you know green corrections are the philosophy of a sustainable prison. Certainly aids to a much calmer operating tone, a much more pro-social environment, you know, in area that has greater humanity which really is an environment that’s more conducive to the educational, vocational training, or cognitive behavior change…

Len Sipes: Right.

Dan Pacholke: … is that the context to prisons begins to change in a humanizing sort of way.

Len Sipes: If all the states of the United States employed green corrections and I am going to come back to you guys for more – for a larger number of specific examples as to what green corrections is because I’m still a bit confused. I understand landscaping, I understand dealing with animals, I understand mulching, I understand that sort of thing, but I’m getting a sense that it does go a little bit beyond that. I may be missing that but in essence what we’re dealing with here is stakeholder buy in. We’re talking about is that you don’t do this on your own. I would imagine the state of Washington and other states have to reach out to other people to help them implement a green corrections program. Either one of you can talk to me about that?

Stephanie Davison: So when we worked with several states, they find external partners both from other state agencies and then community-based organizations are critical.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: For example, in Maryland, they used the Department of National – Natural Resources…

Len Sipes: Right.

Stephanie Davison: …to give inmate opportunities to do restoration projects within their community. That’s critical.

Len Sipes: Okay. So they take the prelease offenders and they go out and they do restoration projects.

Stephanie Davison: Yes.

Len Sipes: Okay. Okay. So, again, help me with the cynical side of spending 40 years in the criminal justice system. Okay. So they go out and dig holes and put in trees. I mean but we are talking about the possibility of jobs upon release. So anybody can go out and dig a hole put in a tree.

Stephanie Davison: Right.

Len Sipes: So help me understand that.

Stephanie Davison: So they’re learning how to maintain the tree and either an urban forest or a traditional forest over the long term.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: So that’s an important skill. Another example in Maryland is right to know they were leaning how to deconstruct an old prison and then they’ll build signs made out of the old bricks.

Len Sipes: Really?

Stephanie Davison: It’s an interesting project.

Len Sipes: And that’s – and that’s the Maryland Correctional Institute at Jessup?

Stephanie Davison: Yes.

Len Sipes: Yes. That’s the prison you’re talking about.

Stephanie Davison: Yes, I am.

Len Sipes: I’ve been in there a thousand times under – under nasty circumstances.

Stephanie Davison: Yes.

Len Sipes: And I’m so happy when they closed the prison down. So they’re taking the – their dismantling the prison and they’re doing what with it?

Stephanie Davison: And they will be using the bricks from the prison to create signs within the community.

Len Sipes: That is neat.

Stephanie Davison: It’s a cool project and it’s great because the old building won’t be going into the waste stream.

Len Sipes: Right.

Stephanie Davison: And all of those products will be in a very visible way contributing to their community.

Len Sipes: Well that’s neat. Maryland should start a buy-a-brick program. This is an authentic brick. You know what we used to call that institution?

Stephanie Davison: No, I don’t.

Len Sipes: The cut.

Stephanie Davison: Oh.

Len Sipes: Yes and it has a world famous because it was an old prison it was called the cut, some people say he was named after the railroad cut that ran by it and the other people say it was nicknamed the cut because of the all the stabbings at the place. So it has a very, very – just in case the listeners are remotely interested, it has a very unique background. Ladies and gentlemen we’re doing a show today on green corrections and I find this really interesting. Dan Pacholke, he’s the assistant secretary of the State of Washington Department of Corrections, www.doc.wa.gov. Stephanie Davison, she is a senior program officer with FHI360. It’s www.fhi360.org. They are a contractor to the National Institute of Corrections of the Federal Bureau of Prisons of the US Department of Justice and they’re trying to implement this concept of green corrections throughout the United States. There is a website that I do want to say which is a website at the National Institute of Corrections specifically focusing on green corrections, www.nicic.gov/greencorrections. I’ll give that one more time now and at the end of the program, www.nicic.gov/greencorrections. Donna, I hope I got that correct, okay. I’m getting a thumbs up. All right. Where do you we go to with all of this? I mean are states really buying into this? Are states really – I mean you said the bulk of the states, Stephanie. Is this is something that they’re enthusiastically pursuing or they’re saying, oh, my gosh, here’s another mandate from the governor, another mandate from the federal government although I don’t think it’s a mandate. I think they’re simply guiding. So as you go out and talk to hard bitten state correctional administrators when you talk to them about green corrections, what sort of reception do you get?

Stephanie Davison: It really varies on the state and it depends on who you’re talking to. If you’re talking to someone who needs to save money…

Len Sipes: Right.

Stephanie Davison: …then they buy into it right away.

Len Sipes: There you go.

Stephanie Davison: They understand it. If it’s an officer working the yard, it’s a little different.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: And we found that buy in is really important with those individuals.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: So – and I’ll let Dan speak to this a little bit more but we found it’s important to have an understanding of why green is important when you’re trying to do it at a grassroots level. When you’re trying to get the officer to get on board that they have to understand the why.

Len Sipes: Right. But they do see the obvious. I mean look, I’ve been in, as I said before, some prisons where there are a lot of programming and the officers within the prisons with lots of programming are much happier human beings because the level of violence goes down and, Dan, quickly correct me if I’m overselling this concept but in those institutions where there are lots of programs where they are meaningfully engaged in doing pro-social things throughout the course of the day, either GED programs or substance abuse or they’re doing work-related programs, because I think this is part of correctional industries. Dan, is this part of correctional industries in the State of Washington?

Dan Pacholke: No, it’s actually – well, it is but I mean it’s part of the Department of Corrections as a whole and certainly correctional industries is involved in sustainability activities also.

Len Sipes: Right and we should explain what the correctional industry is. It’s job programs within prisons.

Dan Pacholke: Correct. I mean it really does two or three things. It mimics real world business activity inside the prison.

Len Sipes: Right.

Dan Pacholke: So they create real world jobs. On top of that they provide, you know, job training and then ultimately they produce products that are useful to state governments and certainly our department as well.

Len Sipes: Right. But to Stephanie’s point of some of the correctional staff – I mean they may not get it, they may not understand it at the very beginning but if it calms the institution and makes their day more productive and makes their day safer, I would imagine there is a certain point where they say, oh, okay, now I get this.

Dan Pacholke: I think in the last five years that a lot of correctional staff that have been sold on the cost containment aspect of it.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Dan Pacholke: It does save money and it takes it out of areas where stuff like garbage or energy and it allows us to buy equipment or training or whatever the case maybe for line level staff. So on the one hand, I think they get the cost containment. On the other hand, as you’ve indicated, correctional officers know that meaningful activity to an offender gets them out of the housing unit, gets them involved in something and in most cases, with few exceptions, they are less prone to act out, less prone to violate rules.

Len Sipes: Now, the other thing that comes to mind is that all – most of the prisons that I’ve been in, either in the State of Maryland or beyond the State of Maryland, are pretty stark places. I mean it’s barbwired, it’s concrete buildings, it’s not designed to look nice. It’s designed to keep inmates in the prison. The first rule of corrections is I shall not escape. So we’re talking about a pretty stark environment here and I would imagine if you start using the common areas of the prison system and start landscaping them and start doing things with them that brings an environment. I mean, look, the average correctional officer has got a tough job. They are in there for 20 or 30 years. The average inmate could be in there for 10 or 20 years or longer. So they’re all in this very confined area. It’s stark. It’s not the prettiest of areas. I’m guessing that if you green up these areas and teach inmates how to sustain them being green, I would imagine that cannot transform but it can certainly add to the pleasantness of the interactions of inmates and staff throughout the course of the day. It makes simply – makes a nicer environment.

Dan Pacholke: Well, it certainly changes the culture or context of incarceration. Even in high security facilities, you can find places to create green space or you can do organic gardening or you can co-locate dog training areas next to housing units and certainly bringing dogs into living unit adds an element to it that is not typically there and will bring a calming aspect. You’ll see them laughing or smiling which is not always the case. So you know part of what you’re doing in bringing nature inside prison is you’re creating more of therapeutic environment and it’s not missed by the offender population and certainly, it creates a better environment for staff as well. So there’s great examples out there how you can do it in very high security prisons and you know all the way down to low security prisons. There are some model 2000 prisons out there today that are doing everything in the areas of gardening and garbage sorting and composting and raising tilapia, dog training, and bicycle restoration that have highly programmatic routines you know, 100 inmates involved in activities that would be greening activities.

Len Sipes: Bicycle restoration, that didn’t even cross my mind and as a fairly avid bike rider, that intrigues me. Tell me more about bicycle restoration?

Dan Pacholke: Well, once again, I mean once you adopt a green principle or sustainable principle in your mind that you want to do things that are sustainable and also that you wanted to contribute to the community, I mean, you start outreaching a little bit. We probably have four prisons that receive bicycles either from police departments or from special interest groups in the community. They bring them in. They often times contribute money. We set up an area where offenders will do bicycle restoration and then typically, they’re turned back over to community and they give them to children in need. So once again, it’s an opportunity to contribute to something larger than themselves. It’s an opportunity to give back to children. It’s an opportunity to work with community partners that are interested in the outcome that you’re going to achieve. So essentially a community begins to see you as a resource rather than a black hole behind a big wall that we just throw money into.

Len Sipes: That’s an interesting concept. I mean that is – I’ve never heard of that. I mean I’ve been in part of this system for – again, for decades and bicycle restoration, what a great idea. How long has that been going on in the State of Washington?

Dan Pacholke: Oh, you know, I think we started the first one probably 6 or 7 years ago.

Len Sipes: Wow.

Dan Pacholke: We probably have half a dozen prisons that are doing it today but along those same lines, it’s the same thing we’re going canine rescue. We have canine rescue in 12 different prisons across the state and, of course, there are many, many dog advocates and training everything up to assistance dogs. Once again, a community has a need, it’s tough environmental times, they need help. They provide training to the inmates. It is a therapeutic activity and then in the end, of course, the community, you know, gets the animal and we have 100% adoption rate. So as you start going down this line about a being a good community partner, I mean there are several states and we’re one of them that are doing environmental restoration projects whether it’s raising the endangered Oregon spotted frog or the Taylor checkerspot butterfly or endangered puri [PH] plants that there are community partners, scientists, biologists, US Department of Fish and Wildlife that need assistance in taking care of or nurturing or growing these creatures or plants. They lack funding and, of course, prisons are full of people that have nothing but time.

Len Sipes: Right.

Dan Pacholke: Many times they are pretty talented as well so – once again, it’s another way to bridge and to give inmates an opportunity to contribute and certainly give a community partner a different view inside the prison where they begin to see you as a resource that can help solve local problems.

Len Sipes: You know the more I talk to the two of you about this the more encouraged – the more enthusiastic I become because when you first hear the term green corrections, Dan, you’re not quite sure what it means and where we’re going with this but that’s true. I mean if you’re doing a lot of community restoration for inmates at the pre-release level who can safely go out, if you’re doing things like repairing bikes or taking care of wounded animals or training dogs, I mean, my heavens, how many millions of dogs are there in this country that needs some sort of intervention or they’re simply going to be put down. So it sounds as if the State of Washington is being really innovative in terms of coming up with not just pro-social things for the inmate population to do but a way for the prison to contribute to the betterment of the larger community.

Dan Pacholke: Yeah. I think that is part of what you’ll find across the country. I mean Maryland is doing steps around Chesapeake Bay, you know and Ohio is doing stuff with the Cincinnati Zoo and I think they’re about ready to start a restoration project on an endangered salamander called the hellbender and so there are different examples out there where people are beginning to engage community partners in a way that provides opportunities for inmates that are therapeutic, they teach empathy, compassion, and responsibility. At the same time, you’ll have scientists or biologists or both that are interested in these projects and ultimately, you know, we have a controlled environment where we can develop protocols around some of these science restoration project so you begin to expand the kind of agenda of greening a corrections. I mean you start with something simple like cost containment, certainly moving areas to training and jobs and then, of course, you bridge into more local geographic community needs and we’re certainly in need of many, many more environmental restoration projects across this country.

Len Sipes: It’s an amazing thought. Okay, we’re in the final couple of minutes of the programs Stephanie. Well, tell me more about – I’m hearing all these wonderful things coming out of the State of Washington and so you’re telling me that other – and Dan did mention that Maryland is doing some stuff, Ohio is doing some stuff, does everybody get green corrections?

Stephanie Davison: Not everybody…

Len Sipes: Do they understand it?

Stephanie Davison: … gets green corrections but they could.

Len Sipes: They could.

Stephanie Davison: I would encourage people to go the NIC website…

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: …and look an example of – and look at a guidebook called the Greening of Corrections: Creating a Sustainable System.

Len Sipes: Right. Okay.

Stephanie Davison: We have examples from all over the country from the deep south to the progressive west and you can see how it can be done anywhere.

Len Sipes: Okay and we are talking about, as Dan said, $3.5 million worth of savings. So if you do it for no other reason besides saving taxpayers – you know, 50 times, 50 states, and seven territories x $3.5 million that’s a lot of money and I’m going to give the website out one more time before the close that will give greater time for the close, www.nicic.gov/greencorrections, www.nicic.gov/greencorrections. Okay. We’re in our final minute of the program, who wants it? Stephanie, any final wrap up?

Stephanie Davison: One final word, I’d like to say in the next few months, we’ll be releasing a challenge on challenge.gov so that…

Len Sipes: Really?

Stephanie Davison: …State Departments of Correction can share their activities with us and then we’ll be able to broadcast them and share them with a larger community.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: So keep your eyes peeled for that.

Len Sipes: So you’re going to pit one state against the other and see who’s doing the best, right?

Stephanie Davison: A little bit. We want the examples of the best work that’s being done.

Len Sipes: And, obviously, some of the best work that’s being done is being done by the Washington Department of Corrections. So, Dan, how’s it feel to be known for something else besides the day-to-day grind of corrections? I mean the people come to you and say, hey, tell me more about green corrections in the State of Washington.

Dan Pacholke: Well, I think it’s – on one hand, it’s fun. I mean it is in activity that started kind of on the margin and has worked its way more to the center of the plate. It’s really encouraging for us, I supposed all of us, just to see more growth in the area of people like Stephanie, you know NIC, other states like Maryland, Ohio, and Oregon and California. I mean there’s lots of people doing different activities out there so, you know, one of these days, we’re going to see a new prison design that’s based on sustainable principles that articulates or identifies everything that we’re talking about here. So I’m just interested in seeing more best practice come of it and learning from others and hopefully continuing to push this in a way that’s both economically beneficial as well as humanizing corrections and making the operations of prison safer.

Len Sipes: Dan, you’ve got the final word. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re doing a show today- have done a show today on green corrections produced by the National Institute of Corrections. Our guests today have been Dan Pacholke, assistant secretary of the State of Washington Department of Corrections; Stephanie Davison, she is a senior program officer with FHI360, www.fhi360.org. Ladies and gentlemen this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your calls, letters, concepts, criticisms, and please yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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