Prison inmates at Cedar Creek Corrections Center in Washington State are working to save the endangered Oregon spotted frog.
The program is part of several in the state that allows prisoners to put their time to good use acting as ecological assistants.
Inmates Taylor Davis and Matthew Henson will release black-spotted frogs back into the wild this week. Corrections staff believe inmates make ideal conservation workers because they work within a controlled environment and are able to consistently give time to projects. Inmates are also able to contribute to society while behind bars.
Davis and Henson feed the frogs and take notes on deformities and deaths. For their work, they earn 42 cents each and hour. For Henson, the work is more important than the pay—which is less than other prison jobs. “The research helps a very big cause,” Henson says, “Being on the forefront of this research is payment enough.”
Dan Pacholke, prisons director for the Washington State Department of Corrections, also co-directs the Sustainability in Prisons Project with The Evergreen State College. The Project puts inmates to work with zoos, nonprofits, wildlife commissions and state and federal agencies.
The Project has caught the attention of the National Science Foundation who has expressed interest in establishing similar programs elsewhere in the nation.
With reporting from the Huffington Post