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Publication Date


Document Type


Study Type

ENX 301; Environmental Concentration


Environmental Science and Policy


Paul Wetzel


The American carceral system has a long and racist history with agricultural labor. Prison labor has been used for agricultural work since the abolition of slavery and the ratification of the 13th Amendment, but prison gardens have recently regained popularity as a means to ‘rehabilitate’ incarcerated people and provide opportunities for education and therapy as opposed to punishment. Carceral facilities hope that these programs can provide education, job training, and therapeutic benefits, as well as increased access to fresh food that is so often lacking in prison diets. However, existing within a carceral system means these garden programs inevitably engage with the violent and oppressive structures of mass incarceration and can be co-opted to reinforce oppressive carceral logics. One such logic is the idea that incarcerated individuals have to gain their basic human rights back by improving their behavior and showing their commitment to change. In our research, we attempt to explore how garden programs interact with these logics while centering our research within the prison abolition movement with a focus on incarcerated voices and incarcerated individuals’ lived experiences.


© the authors


This is a redacted version of the final paper.