With Imprisonment Rate Falling, US Prisons Are Repurposed into Shelters & Farms for the Homeless

The declining crime rates in the US have led to prisons closing and officials looking into creative ways to repurpose them.

One such prison from Connecticut has been repurposed into a storage for documents whereas another one is used for training new correction officers.

Some have been emptied, but not yet repurposed.

And, there are those that have been transformed into movie studies and farms.

Inmate Population Is Dropping, Explain Officials

The state’s inmate population reduced by more than 50 percent from the peak of almost 20,000 in 2008.

The decisions are now being made about how to repurpose the prisons, including the Northern Correctional Institution that was once the house of death row.

Although new prisons are still being built, a lot of states are witnessing downsizing. Between the years of 2011 and 2016, 94 state prisons and facilities for juveniles in the US closed, says date by the Sentencing Project non-profit.

Nicole Porter, director of advocacy in this non-profit explains that with the reducing crime rates, the state budget and COVID crises, discussions for prison closures have been happening in different states throughout the US.

Many prisons have been transformed into shelters for the homeless, centers for rehabilitation of troubled teens, and even into a movie studio.

Another very interesting example of a prison transformation is the one of the former Scotland Correctional Center in Wagram, North Carolina.

The Idea Is to Use the Injustice Tools to Transform them into Justice Ones

Abandoned in 2001, it’s now been transformed into a sustainable education farm known as the Growing Change.

It serves veterans and troubled teens.

The project started in 2011 as a collaboration between charities, the local government, and universities.

They provide various trainings there, including vermicomposting and beekeeping. The cells have been transformed into aquaponics tanks.

And, the produce made here is sold, including eggs, compost, and livestock to the locals.

The young leaders of the project, including the founder of Growing Change, Noran Sanford, say they’re also planning to add a recreational component, for example, turning the guard tower into a zip line and a wall for climbing.

Sanford notes that the organization has made a blueprint known as the Prison Flip Toolkit, a partnership between them, North Carolina A&T, and the Kellogg Foundation to assist other communities with projects like this.

He says their goal is to use the rusting tools of injustice and transform them into tools of justice in a smart way.




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