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Can Prisons Be Flipped for Good? – January 8, 2018

Turning old jails into employment hubs is challenging, but some groups are getting creative

graphic depicting a prison

Imagine a rural oasis of sustainable agriculture and community. There are aquaponic ponds filled with fish, fields lined with vegetable rows, pastures for farm animals, and hives buzzing with bees. There are dormitories for staff, a community kitchen for culinary classes, and even a climbing wall for energetic kids. Now picture all of this at the site of a former jail in Wagram, North Carolina — the fish swimming in tanks in old jail cells, the cows contained by old prison fence lines, and the climbing wall converted from a… more

by: Zoe Loftus-Farren

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EPA Adds Prison Locations to its Environmental Justice Mapping Tool – September 21, 2017

EJ activists celebrate move as an advance in the struggle to recognize the environmental rights of prisoners

graphic depicting a prison

As an environmental reporter, it’s not every day that I get to communicate good news — the state of our environment often feels pretty bleak. But today, at least, there is a victory to celebrate: Thanks to the persistence of a small group of prison ecology advocates, the support of their allies, and the assistance of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), prisoners rights and environmental justice advocates have a new tool to add to their activist arsenal.

This summer, the EPA added a “prisons layer” to its Environmental… more

by: Zoe Loftus-Farren

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Likely Carcinogen Contaminates Drinking Water of 90 Million Americans, Report Finds – September 6, 2017

Trump's pick to head chemical safety office at EPA has downplayed dangers of the toxin, say advocates

According to a new report by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, the drinking water of more than a quarter of Americans — some 90 million people — tested postive for a likely carcinogen known as 1,4-dioxane between 2010 and 2015. And public water systems serving more than 7 million people in 27 states have average 1,4-dioxane concentrations that exceed the level US Environmental Protection Agency has said can increase the risk of cancer.

photo of woman drinking from water fountainPhoto by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources According to a new report, a likely carcinogen was detected in the public water systems serving… more

by: Zoe Loftus-Farren

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DOJ Withdraws Plan for Kentucky Prison on Mountaintop-Removal Site – June 30, 2017

Proposed prison would have been terrible for prisoner health and local wildlife, say advocates

graphic depicting a prisonLast month the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) withdrew its request for funding for construction of a maximum-security prison atop a former mountaintop-removal coal-mining site in eastern Kentucky.

The proposed $444 million facility, planned for Letcher County, has faced ongoing opposition from environmental and human rights organizations who have expressed a wide range of concerns about potential ecological and health impacts of the project. “Building this prison would have been terrible for the health of prisoners, the surrounding community, and all the wildlife in the area,” Lori Ann Bird,… more

by: Zoe Loftus-Farren

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Enduring Torture and Death Threats in Service of Conservation – April 23, 2017

If Virunga is threatened again, “I will be there,” says Congolese ranger and Goldman Prize recipient

The trials that Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo have overcome as a warden in Virunga National Park are hard to imagine from my Bay Area home — he’s been beaten and kidnapped, threatened with death, and tortured. He’s gone undercover to document the transgressions of a British oil giant, been offered bribes to look the other way, and been told he’s a disgrace to his country. But he’s endured it all in service to his community and to conservation.  

photo of chinstrap penguinsphoto courtesy of Goldman Environmental PrizeRodrigue Katembo, who has put is life on the line to protect Virunga National Park, will receive the Goldman Environmental… more

by: Zoe Loftus-Farren

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