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Students Praise Sustainability Efforts of Prisons in Newspaper Op-Ed

July 2, 2011

98277July 2, 2011, Greencastle, Ind. — "The environmental movement in America has a new ally. No, not a public utility, not a Hollywood celebrity, but prisons," begins a newspaper op-ed written by DePauw University students Nathan Cummins and Terrell Moore. Cummins, who will be a senior this fall, and Moore, a rising sophomore, are both members of the DePauw Environmental Policy Project. They note, "Over the past week, we joined dozens of prison officials, eco-friendly business representatives, and technical experts in Indianapolis for the first 'National Symposium on Sustainable Corrections.' Indiana was chosen to host the conference because our state has emerged as a leader in prison sustainability initiatives. The medium-security prison at Putnamville, for example, has saved $1.75 million in natural gas cost over the past three-and-a-half years and reduced its carbon footprint by implementing, among other initiatives, a comprehensive recycling program."

The students report, "The results are impressive. In the last five years, Putnamville has cut its trash bill by more than $5,000 per month despite an increase in its population of 1,000 inmates, and now makes money from selling recyclable materials. During our tour of the facility we also observed their new energy-efficient biomass boiler and a wind turbine that powers two buildings. Through these initiatives, Putnamville has saved Hoosier taxpayers money and become a model for other Indiana prisons to emulate."

Cummins and Moore point out, "Gov. Mitch Daniels has often stressed the importance of reducing costs and providing better services for 92519Indiana. We are glad to see that the Indiana Department of Correction is taking this message to heart. Tommy Norris, CEO of GreenPrisons.org, stated that sustainable prisons are a 'positive experience all the way around.' Preliminary results from Indiana's efforts to save taxpayer money while reducing its environmental footprint suggest that Norris is on the right track.

Read their complete essay, which has appeared in several papers, at the website of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star or at College News.org.

Another member of DEPP, Oksana Polhuy, who will be a sophomore at DePauw University in the fall, contributed a column last month o the Kyiv Post, Ukraine's leading English-language newspaper. Access it here.

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