Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Justice Studies

First Advisor

Avi Brisman

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Second Advisor

Judah Schept

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Third Advisor

Kristie R. Blevins

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies


Being outdoors is an integral part of our lives, even as we are experiencing rapid urbanization. Research shows that nature and purposeful work in it have a profound effect on physical and mental health. What, then, about prison inmates? They often do not have the opportunity to engage in nature or enjoyable, outdoor tasks. One way in which this could be remedied is through the use of prison horticulture or garden programs. Prison horticulture is a productive, outdoors activity in which inmates raise gardens that would benefit their group, facility, or the community. In the process, prisoners learn about gardening methods, as well as acquire applicable skills that could be utilized in future vocations, particularly in rural areas. This thesis examines prison horticulture using quantitative methods and a rehabilitative framework, evaluating the mental health/emotional status of participants in prison horticulture groups and comparing them with non–horticulture groups. Prison gardens provide physical exercise and mental stimulation to prisoners, facilitate a safer prsion environment for the inmates, contribute to proper inmate health, and pave the way for better interpersonal relationships in and outside of prison walls. Overall, this thesis discusses the benefits that prisoners receive from spending more time outdoors, particularly through the use of prison horticultural programs.