Off-campus SJSU users: To download campus access theses, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your SJSU library user name and PIN.

Publication Date

Summer 2014

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Studies


Rachel O'Malley


eco-psychology, horticultural therapy, justice, mindfulness, rehabilitation, value orientation

Subject Areas

Environmental studies; Psychology; Criminology


Society's environmental practices often parallel those of our criminal justice system. Both embody "throw-away" cultures that often yield more complex problems than those they were attempting to solve. Programs that provide real meaning-making are necessary to achieve ecological and criminal rehabilitation. Fundamental ecological and personal transformation requires a deep sense of context, purpose, and reconnection extending beyond mere employability. In this research we explored how people come to terms with personal moral obligation, as well as how restorative ecological engagement may be transformational for humans in personal crisis. Primary field data were gathered from incarcerated men inside San Quentin State Prison participating in the Insight Garden Program (IGP), as well as men in the same unit attending other prison programming, or no programming. A mixed-method approach was used, including open-ended interviews and three multiple-choice survey instruments: a locus of control survey, an environmental literacy quiz, and a climate change opinion survey. Each survey revealed strong results (those consistent with recidivism correlations) for IGP participants, followed by those in other programs, in comparison with men in no programming. Qualitative results most strongly illustrated that prison programming, gardening and otherwise, can contribute profoundly toward transformative value reorientation, which is integral to rehabilitation.