Officer Michael “Mac” McLeon is using aquaponics to transform the Texas Prison System.
Mac’s team set a goal to use aquaponics and grow a salad per day for their entire unit, including inmates AND the officers since they share the same meals. They are currently well on their way to the goal – at one salad every two weeks.
And this is not some limp-leaved lump of soggy lettuce… these are good salads! (see pic below). In addition to lettuce, the program also grows sun-loving fruiting crops like tomatoes and cucumbers, and fresh herbs for the dressing!
The Aquaponics Association has been supporting Mac in his efforts to spread aquaponics to prisons nationwide. Recently, Aquaponics Association Senior Advisor Kate Wildrick interview Mac and uncovered three key takeaways.
Check out the Exclusive Interview with Officer Mac: How Aquaponics is Transforming the Texas Prison System (http://bit.ly/2HE7zJI)
Aquaponics in Prisons Saves Taxpayer Money
Macs interview revealed three key points. In this post, we’ll discuss the first key point: aquaponics in prisons can save taxpayers money in a variety of ways.
For starters, aquaponics directly reduces the amount of food that prisons must purchase by supplementing meals with onsite produce. The cost to grow crops inside the prison is minimal because of the constant supply of free inmate labor. Mac estimates that he saves the State of Texas $0.40 for every head of lettuce they grow. Imagine how much they could save Texas taxpayers with a bigger operation!
In addition to the direct savings of growing their own food, aquaponics in prisons can save taxpayers money in two major long-term ways: 1) lower inmate healthcare costs from dietary based diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure; and 2) reduced recidivism by giving inmates a meaningful, rewarding skill they can employ once released.
In some states, the cost per inmate can be up to $60,000 per year. Mac notes that most inmates will one day be released. Aquaponics can give these citizens a positive skill to keep them from backsliding into the system, which is a major cost.
Stay tuned for the next two Key Points of Aquaponics in Prisons!