Iowa State University Landscape Architecture students worked with Mitchellville Women's Prison to produce plans for landscaping the new 68-million dollar prison expansion.
"(We) told them what we wanted . What we did not want," Warden Patti Wachtendorf says, "They came here and viewed the prison, talked to some offenders and they talked to some staff about what would you like the land scaping to look like."
"I expected, not hardened criminals but something of the sort," student Alicia Adams says, "And actually speaking to them, they're people. They had a lot to say about the landscape. They were very concerned for the well being of the staff and the visitors and each other. And they really knew what they wanted."
What they wanted is a calming environment that's less like a prison.
"How nice for somebody to look, from a hospice room out to a butterfly garden," Wachtendorf says, "It's peaceful. It's serene."
"These are people and yes they have committed crimes but our goal is to rehabilitate them to get them back out into the world," Adams adds.
But isn't a prison supposed to be unpleasant?
"It's gonna be progressive." Wachtendorf says, "It's gonna be bright and cheery. It's also gonna have razor wire and fences. It's gonna have concrete. It's gonna have locked doors. But it's gonna be an environment where women can come and make changes. I don't consider this a country club. I don't want this to be a country club. I want this to be a positive safe environment for both staff and offenders."