fence and buildings at Oregon State Penitentiary

Oregon State Penitentiary

An innovative healing garden for a maximum security prison.

Salem, Oregon
12,940 square feet
Completed in Fall 2019
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A state penitentiary is not the first place one might expect to find inspiration and innovation.

But that is exactly what a small group of inmates and Department of Corrections leaders at the Oregon State Penitentiary (OSP) dared to do: follow their inspiration and innovate. With nothing but hope and a vision, they reached out to Kurisu.

While Kurisu gardens have a history impacting the way in which healthcare is delivered in facilities such as hospitals and substance abuse recovery centers, this partnership with incarcerated members of the Asian Pacific Family Club (APFC) and Oregon’s Department of Corrections at the Oregon State Penitentiary is a pioneering project. It is the first Japanese-style healing garden of its kind in an Oregon maximum security prison and possibly world-wide.
group working on garden at Oregon State Penitentiary
The healing garden at OSP has the potential for long-term impact on how justice is defined and rehabilitation achieved.

As Japanese gardens have done for thousands of years, the Memorial Healing Garden at Oregon State Pentitentiary offers unique opportunities for self-realization, tranquility, and peace. For inmates experiencing depression, anger, stress, and total disconnection from natural elements, recovering a sense of awe and appreciation for nature’s beauty can inspire transformation at the deepest levels.

Kurisu’s vision for this Japanese-style healing garden is a restorative space that, by providing opportunity for physical, psychological, and spiritual nourishment promotes resilience in individuals and communities both inside and outside the walls.
This inmate-initiated project has inspired a diverse network of supporters connected by a dedication to creating a more compassionate society and shared belief in the transformative power of the human spirit.

Kurisu broke ground on the Memorial Healing Garden in Spring 2019 and completed the garden in the fall of that year. Approximately 200 inmates volunteered their time to help build the garden alongside Kurisu's team, some of them every single day, rain or shine. Some of these men had not touched soil or a tree for decades. On November 6, 2019 the garden officially opened. Since then, the Healing Garden has been maintained by inmates trained by Kurisu LLC and with help from Kurisu and community supporters. 

Funding for the Memorial Healing Garden project at Oregon State Penitentiary was made possible entirely by donations from individuals both inside and outside the walls and generous grants from community supporters including the Oregon Community Foundation, Spirit Mountain Community Fund, Social Justice Fund and Meyer Memorial Trust. No tax-payer dollars were used. This inmate-initiated project began with a vision from Asian Pacific Family Club (APFC) members at OSP.  Persisting through a concept and planning stage lasting five years, the garden team overcame countless obstacles, forging new and often unprecedented collaborations along the way. To learn more about the APFC's mission and efforts to make the healing garden a reality, click here.

To learn more about the collaboration between Kurisu, the APFC and Oregon's Department of Corrections to create this truly unique prison healing garden, download this PDF.

Constructing the garden was just the beginning. Now it is the daily work of nurturing the Healing Garden's plants, trees, and koi that will ensure the integrity and beauty of the garden for years to come.  Securing garden access for the over two thousand men incarcerated at OSP and discovering how to best support therapeutic experience will define the garden's success. 

The Memorial Healing Garden project at OSP continues to seek support for maintenance and development. To make a tax-deductible donation now, please visit the project's partner organization, The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) at www.nakasec.org. Thank you.

Blue image of lotus flower

Healing Gardens

Our Japanese-style healing gardens are designed with an intention for restoration on the deepest levels. We incorporate the ancient philosophies and techniques of Japanese garden design to reawaken the connection between people and nature – between ourselves and the larger, timeless cycles of change and regeneration.

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