Major victory with EPA recognizing “Prison Ecology” on EJSCREEN
Two years ago, the concept of Prison Ecology was introduced to the world, building off the work of jailhouse lawyers, scholars and activists around the country. On many occasions spanning the last 4 decades of the prison boom (in which prisoner populations increased by 700%), prisoners and their advocates had noted environmental concerns in local battles surrounding prison operations as well as efforts to stop new prison construction.
In 2015, the Human Rights Defense Center decided that the problem was far beyond the scope of local campaigns, and initiated the Prison Ecology Project to address the issue on a national level.
This summer, the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice formally announced that it would be including the location of prisons in their updated EJSCREEN mapping tool. More about EJSCREEN can be found here.
Today, September 7, 2107, at 1pm ET the EPA has a webinar on their new EJSCREEN map, which at the request of the Prison Ecology Project (PEP), the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons (FTP) and over 130 other groups and prominent figures, includes 6000+ prisons, jails and detention facilities.
For those who can’t attend, EPA staff also offer trainings for smaller groups upon request, and provide tutorials via their website.
This is a big deal.
What it means is that we can now easily look at prisons in proximity to other sites of environmental concern has been done for us. And other agencies who rely on this map to review environmental permits will have no excuse to not do the same.
We can create reports without having our own maps and release them for journalists to review and write about, and activists to organize around.
The map could even link image files of powerful hand-written letters from prisoners that we have collected, to give a personal connection to the source of much of the info we have gathered.