Date of Award

Spring 5-3-2016

Document Type



Community & Global Public Health; College of Health Sciences

First Advisor

Julie Tippens


Background: Incarcerated individuals in the United States suffer from
disproportionately poor mental health outcomes.
Objective: This paper examines the effects of prison gardening programs on the psychosocial health of incarcerated individuals in the United States prison system through a systematic review of the literature.
Methods: Databases including Academic Search Premier, Web of Science, PsycArticles, and Google Scholar were used to identify peer-reviewed articles that met inclusion criteria. The quantitative and qualitative results from these articles were compiled and synthesized.
Results: Selected prison gardening programs were shown to increase self-efficacy and self-worth and decrease anxiety in inmates involved in these initiatives. Reduced recidivism rates were reported for participants of prison gardening programs compared to the general prisoner population. Prison gardening programs were shown to enhance incarcerated individuals’ psychosocial wellbeing in three key ways: 1) increase in self-efficacy and self-worth, 2) decrease in anxiety and depression spectrum symptoms, and 3) reduction in recidivism rates. Communities within geographic proximity of prisons implementing gardening programs also benefited from organic produce donated by the prison programs to local charities.
Conclusion: There is evidence for using prison gardening programs as an alternative therapy to treat symptoms of mental illness and to help prisoners gain vocational skills that can be used upon release.


Degree: MPH/MMS