Green Prisons

LITTLEROCK, Wash. – Of all the things convicted murderer Robert Knowles has been called during his 13 years behind bars, recycler hasn’t been one of them.

But there he was one morning, pitchfork in hand, composting food scraps from the main chow line and coffee grounds from prison headquarters — doing his part to “green” the prison.

[ . . . ]

As around-the-clock operations, prisons are voracious resource hogs, and administrators are under increasing pressure to reduce waste and conserve energy and water.

In 2007, states spent more than $49 billion to feed, house, clothe, treat and supervise 2.3 million offenders, the Pew Center on the States reported this year.

As the prison population has grown this decade, up 76 percent from 1.3 million in 2000, the number of prisons and jails has risen with it. The latest U.S. Bureau of Justice data show 1,821 facilities in 2005, up from 1,668 in 2000.

Pretty damn cool, huh? I think it’s a pretty fantastic idea, implementing go-local food culture, recycling, a means whereby, ideally, to re-connect felons with the society, at least abstractly and indirectly, that they have spurned, and a general plan of semi-self-sufficiency. Imagine, now, if we stopped locking up every prostitute (I’m all for throwing the books at pimps.), coke-head, and small-time marijuana grower, how much more we could save on prisons. Just a thought. For now, though, the greening of prisons seems to be a pretty admirable step in the right direction.
 

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