Lock Up the Prisoner and Set the Frogs Free

When law and science are mentioned, the discussion is often how science can enhance the law.  A recently developed program demonstrates how the law is now being used to enhance science.  The program, a coordinated effort between Evergreen State College and Washington State Department of Corrections, is called “Sustainability in Prisons Project.”  Detailed information about the program can be found here.  Basically, the program is intended to provide a vehicle for those who have been incarcerated to “play key roles in conservation and advancing scientific knowledge.”  It appears that the program has great potential, both in advancing science and in reforming inmates.

The New York Times recently ran a success story regarding the program.  Two inmates, jailed for stealing cars, have raised about 250 spotted frogs, an “imperiled species,” while behind bars.  Not only is the program advancing biologists’ efforts to save endangered species, but the program is leading to the advancement of the sciences in other ways.  For example, a previous inmate is currently finishing a Ph.D. program in molecular biology and a current inmate plans to study bioengineering upon his release.  It can only be hoped that by encouraging inmates to pursue positive life goals that society will also benefit from the advances those individuals are able to make as they continue to pursue scientific research.

The article can be read here.


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