Ohio State: SPP-Ohio

Ohio State’s SPP programs are coordinated by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC), and have been very successful in promoting programs statewide. Their project was co-founded by the Vera Institute of Justice, and was originally called the Ohio Green Prison Project.


take part hellbender screen capture

Read an excellent article on rearing hellbenders in prison at http://www.takepart.com/feature/2015/03/13/raising-endangered-species-in-prison.

SPP-Ohio had initiated conservation programs even before they joined the Network. They partner  with the Columbus Zoo, The Wilds, and Ohio Wildlife Center on multiple initiatives. They are part of the Ohio Hellbender Partnership, and rear North America’s largest salamander, the endangered Eastern Hellbender, at Marion Correctional Institution. A different facility rears a checkerspot butterfly, a relative of the Taylor’s checkerspot reared by SPP-Washington.


A squirrel rests in a wildlife rehabilitation program within one of Ohio’s prisons. Photo by ODRC staff.

Four prisons serve as wildlife rehabilitation centers. Inmates care for robins, ducks, and squirrels until they are ready for release. Seven prisons raise meal-worms for the wildlife rehab at the Ohio Wildlife Center, another is growing food plants for the Wilds, and another hosts a fish farm growing fingerlings for zoo animals. A pilot project is growing lettuce for zoo-resident manatees; apparently manatees are choosy about the taste their romaine, and here’s hoping that the prison-grown produce meets their standards.


ODRC brought the environmental course Roots of Success into prisons starting in 2011. The program has been so successful that it is now active in nearly all of their 27 institutions. Nearly 4000 students graduate from the program each year! Ohio was likely the first corrections agency in the nation to offer an environmental curriculum. It was certainly the first state to certify inmates as Master Trainers for the class; these inmates handle program administration, and conduct trainings for all new instructors of the course.  Learn more about Ohio’s Roots program from an SPP-Washington blog.

A class of Roots of Success students graduates at Ohio Reformatory for Women's Northeast Pre-Release Center. Photo by ORDC staff.

ODRC’s first group of female Roots of Success facilitators, coming from both the Ohio Reformatory for Women and the Northeast Pre-Release Center, graduate from the train-the-trainer program. Photo by ORDC staff.


Warden Kimberly Clipper of Lorain Correctional Institution congratulates a new facilitator for Roots of Success; he took part in the first ever co-ed train-the-trainer event, in which male and female inmates shared a classroom. Photo by ORDC staff.

Sustainable Operations

Increasingly, Ohio’s 27 prisons are making a commitment to recycling and other resource conservation. Many inmates work in sustainable operations programs, and ORDC adds educational components to all efforts. Since the recycling program began, Ross Correctional Institution has saved $55,000 a year, a 61% reduction in cost. At the same time, the prison generated revenue from selling commodities. Half of this stayed at the institution to spend on green programming, and the other half went to the state for investment in other green programs. Statewide, sustainable operations have saved the state $2.2 million in three years, and selling recyclables has generated $1 million  (from http://www.chillicothegazette.com/article/20131221/NEWS01/312210026/RCI-goes-solar-1-7-million-project-aims-save-money-train-inmates).


Noble Correctional Institution’s Warden asserts that “all space has value.” Photo by NCI staff.


ORDC also processes “waste” from Ohio State University sites, and helped Ohio Stadium become the largest stadium in the country to achieve zero waste. From http://footprint.osu.edu/assets/files/zerowaste/ZWOSAchievingZeroWaste.pdf:

In 2012, Ohio Stadium not only achieved Zero Waste, but also marked the highest diversion rate ever achieved at a sporting venue as well as the highest rate achieved by any collegiate venue during the Game Day Challenge, a national stadium recycling competition.


Ross Correctional Institution was the site for the ORDC’s first solar project. The contractor trained inmate technicians to install the system, and has since offered employment to three of them.



An inmate enrolled in a training program to install solar panels works on the roof of Ross Correctional Institution; one of the technicians was offered employment by the solar contractor at the completion of the project. Photo by ORDC staff.

 Community Contributions


Screenshot from http://www.chillicothegazette.com/media/cinematic/gallery/21191227/humane-society-and-prison-partner-to-help-dogs-in-need/

Every one of Ohio’s 27 state prisons hosts one or more dog programs. Since these programs long pre-existed Ohio-SPP is unsure whether to include them under their sustainability umbrella. Pet programs are considered part of SPP elsewhere, and the Network welcomes Ohio’s programs to join us so that we may learn from each other, share resources and promote each other’s activities.

See a excellent image gallery from the Ross Correctional Institute’s program in a story in the Chillicothe Gazette.



Leah Morgan, ORDC’s Energy Conservation & Sustainability Administrator, sat on a panel with Bill Merritt, Maryland DOC’s Environmental Compliance, Safety and Emergency Operations, at the SPP Network conference in March, 2013. Photo by SPP staff.