Tag Archives: prisons

A garden for San Quentin: Today’s featured digital object

Gardening is, it must be agreed, an inherently fecund activity. In 2003, San Quentin State Prison began an experimental, rehabilitative gardening program in an attempt to improve the social climate of the prison and reduce recidivism rates. Was it effective? That’s what student Kathryn E. Waitkus sought to determine through her master’s thesis completed at Pepperdine University’s George L. Graziadio School of Business and Management. You can read the results yourself in her complete thesis, which is just one of the many scholarly works available in our Electronic Theses and Dissertations digital collection.

Inmates at work in the San Quentin garden

Waitkus, who filed her thesis in 2004, interviewed inmate program participants, an inmate control group, and prison staff before and after the garden was planted to determine varying perspectives on the expectations of stakeholders and the actual impact of the program. She found evidence that the prison garden program was beneficial to the inmates in many ways, providing a focused activity, a sense of refuge, a source of stress reduction, and a “neutral” territory in the otherwise segregated prison yard. Waitkus also evaluated the gardening program from a managerial perspective, providing recommendations for expanding the program. She remains deeply involved with the Insight Garden Program at San Quentin, and you can follow the progress of the program at her blog The Avant Gardener.

The Electronic Theses and Dissertation digital collection currently focuses on recent work from Pepperdine University’s graduate programs; however, plans are underway to digitize older theses and dissertations as well, bringing to light the long tradition of graduate level scholarship at Pepperdine University.