Podcast: James Jiler Interviewed on Green Building News

May 11th, 2011

Email This Blog Post Email This Blog Post Filed under: New Village Commons— Laura Leone @ 1:53 pm

“Things occur in the garden that you’re never going to get inside the barren, sterile facilities [of prison] where nature is something of the abstract.” – James Jiler

DoingTimeFrontCover_RGBforWOn April 20, James Jiler, author of Doing Time in the Garden: Life Lessons through Prison Horticulture, visited Green Building News to discuss what impact organic gardening can have on prisons and the challenges these programs face. James focuses on the behavioral impacts and benefits to society outside the prison by emphasizing the importance of prison horticultural programs that not only serve to educate and provide necessary job skills for those returning to society, but are also sources for therapeutic and meditative activities to address issues that keep them from staying out of prison. The simple act of gardening, James says, gives “people a total release from their daily rigors and confines of being incarcerated,” and the opportunity to work outside and with nature, “really does gentle the spirit and it can change behaviors so… we have people less likely to return to prison.” James believes that every prison program should give individuals the opportunity to change their lives while they are incarcerated and that society must see to this.

Not only does James illustrate how the horticultural programs in prisons have been successful, but is also adamant to point out that “it is called the Department of Corrections, not the Department of Punishment.”

James is currently in the process of creating an association of prison horticultural programs and hopes that the association will lead to programs James Jilerthat will be implemented more cost efficiently and on a wider scale. He lectures on prison horticulture nationwide and is director of an environmental re-entry program in Florida called GreenWorks, which is a unique arts and environment program that combines the arts with landscape and technology design, installation and maintenance to create both life and job skills for those who are incarcerated.

To listen to the full podcast click here.

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