Horticultural Therapy Improves Vocational Skills, Self-esteem, and Environmental Awareness of Criminal Offenders in a Community Corrections Setting

in HortScience
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  • 1 Kansas State Univ., Dept. of Horticulture, Forestry and Recreation Resources, Manhattan, KS 66506-5506
  • | 2 Kansas State Univ., Dept. of Horticulture, Forestry and Recreation Resources, Manhattan, KS 66506-5506
  • | 3 Adult Probation, 6th Judicial District, Community Supervision and Corrections Dept., Powderly, Texas
  • | 4 Adult Probation, 6th Judicial District, Community Supervision and Corrections Dept., Paris, TX 75461-0977

At the Lamar County Adult Probation Program in Paris, Texas, a three-year study (Spring 2001-Fall 2003) involving 376 probationers was conducted to investigate the rehabilitative effects on probationers of a horticulture vocational training program. Data were collected on 189 adults who were randomly assigned to a horticulture group doing greenhouse plant production and vegetable gardening activities. The horticulture group was compared with 187 adults who were in a non-horticulture community service group doing trash clean-up and janitorial work. Within the horticulture group, significant improvement occurred in horticultural knowledge (KSU General and Specific Horticulture Exams), self-esteem (Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale), and environmental awareness (Environmental Response Inventory). These changes did not occur within the non-horticulture community service group. Future research will examine recidivism rates and vocational placements of probationers from both groups.

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