Healing Gardens in Prisons

Prison garden at Elmore County Correctional Facility, AL 
Photo courtesy Alabama Department of Corrections
Amy Lindemuth, who submitted her thesis for the Therapeutic Landscapes Database References page (see previous post), also recently published an article in the Journal of Mediterranean Ecology on healing gardens in prisons: “Designing Therapeutic Environments for Inmates and Prison Staff in the United States: Precedents and Contemporary Applications.” This is a really interesting area of the field of landscape and healthcare design that I would like to delve into more, maybe eventually giving it its own page on the TLD. The prison industrial complex, as Angela Davis calls it, has grown astronomically in recent decades, and access to gardens and gardening has been found to have a positive effect on those “inside.” 

Last year, Clare Cooper Marcus wrote a great piece about UC Berkeley Landscape Architecture students’ work on a prison hospice garden in Vacaville, CA (first published in Frameworks, the UC Berkeley College of Enviornmental Design Alumni Magazine, Fall 2006, pp. 10-15) which was reprinted in the ASLA Healthcare and Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network 2007 Newsletter. Scroll to page 6 to read that article.

After a quick search on the web, I found two interesting articles to include here. 

One is from the Human Flower Project, titled “Flowers in Purgatory,” from July 2006. That’s where the above photo is from. 

The second is from the TKF Foundation website, one of their Sacred Space Locations: The Metropolitan Transition Center in Baltimore, MD.

And finally, if you’re interested in this subject, the book Doing Time in the Garden: Life Lessons Through Prison Horticulture, by James Jiler, should definitely be on your reading list.