Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 74.09
Liaison Merry Rankin
Submission Date Aug. 30, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Iowa State University
IN-24: Innovation A

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Merry Rankin
ISU Director of Sustainability
Facilities Planning & Management
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Iowa Correctional Institute Women Children's Garden

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

In the Spring of 2018, ISU Landscape Architecture students from Professor Julie Steven’s design studio collaborated with staff and inmates at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women to convert the previously fenced-in, concrete outdoor visiting area into a Children’s Garden. The intent was to alleviate overcrowding during visitation and create a green space that allowed incarcerated mothers to bond with their children. Research suggests that fostering parent-child relationships during incarceration provides significant value in several facets of the rehabilitation process, with profound positive effects on the emotional and cognitive development of children as well as a significant reduction in the recidivism rate of incarcerated mothers. These outcomes allow families to break the cycle of intergenerational incarceration.

Students visited the prison several times throughout the semester to integrate input from staff and inmates into their design proposals. Line-of-sight considerations helped to ensure the security of staff, inmates, and their guests. Students brought models of their designs to the facility during visitation days in order to obtain input directly from inmates and their children, which allowed for the implementation of several features to provide a more ‘backyard feel’ to the space. The completed project is a living landscape of trees, native prairie, and gardens serving as habitat for several native butterfly and small animal species. Paved walkways lead to several features, including play equipment, outdoor instruments, flower beds, and vegetable plots.

Initial surveys of inmates show nearly a 75% appreciation and usage rating for the new landscape spaces created.

Through this collaboration with ICIW, Iowa State University joins only two other universities in the United States (University of Washington, Seattle; and University of California, Berkeley) in making this unique connection toward incorporating a systems approach to facility design – encompassing water management, ecology, and social factors.

Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Public Engagement

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :

The website URL where information about the innovation is available :

Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.