Insight Garden Program

Research Studies


IGP is one of the only evidence-based rehabilitation programs in California. A 2011 recidivism study of 117 IGP participants who paroled between 2003-2009 found that less than 10% returned to prison or jail — an approximate savings of $40 million to the state and taxpayers based on the average state cost to incarcerate someone at $47,421.

Graduate Research Studies

Lisa Benham completed her graduate level research study From Utility to Significance: Exploring Ecological Connection, Ethics and Personal Transformation Through a Gardening and Environmental Literacy Program within San Quentin Prison in 2014. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods across control groups, Lisa found:

  • Prison gardens and environmental programming contribute profoundly toward transformative values re-identification, which is integral to a rehabilitative experience that inspires lasting change.
  • An individual’s sense of personal control or inner-agency (Locus of Control) was improved where deepening environmental understanding was also observed.

In 2004, Executive Director Beth Waitkus completed her Master’s Thesis entitled, “The Impact of a garden on the physical environment and social climate of a prison yard at San Quentin State Prison.” Her study found:

  • IGP’s garden on an open prison yard is the only place where different races can congregate and work in teams without fear of violence from others.
  • Gardens invite attention, use, and refuge.
  • Being in or near a garden reduces stress.
  • Gardeners gain benefits from directly working with nature, creating the possibility for hope and further change.