September 10, 2017 | David F. Coppedge

Creation Therapy Works for Criminals

Prisoners locked up in cells day after day, year after year, would calm down if nature could be brought to them, says a new study.

Look at this photo. Does it improve your mood? What if you had nothing else to look at but bare walls?

Havasu Creek, by David Coppedge.

We’ve reported that hospital patients recover better when shown scenes of nature (5/20/01). Now, augmenting a report from last year, a project at the University of Utah found that nature imagery calms prisoners in solitary confinement and maximum security cells, too:

Sweeping shots of majestic landscapes. Glaciers, forests and waterfalls.  Research published today shows that these images, shown to people deprived of access to nature, can reduce tension, help defuse anger and make some of the harshest environments, like a solitary confinement cellblock in a maximum-security prison, a little easier to bear.

The study, published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, followed inmates in solitary confinement in an Oregon prison for a year. Inmates who viewed nature videos several times a week committed 26 percent fewer violent infractions than their peers. The study’s results will lead to new endeavors that will extend to images of wide-open outer space as well – a welcome sight from within prison walls.

It “helps me think clearer to know there is so much more beauty in this world then this prison” —an inmate

A video clip in the article shows how they do it. For hardened prisoners who cannot be released for lectures or other mind-stimulating activities, simply showing nature scenes on the wall one hour per day with a projector produced fewer disciplinary problems. Prison guards like that, too.

Inmates stated they felt calmer after watching the videos, with the calm emotions lasting for hours. 80 percent said the videos made their time easier. They also reported that they felt the videos helped improve their relationships with staff, and that remembering the videos helped them calm down when they were angry. Four said they were even sleeping better.

The nature project help’s [sic] me think clearer to know there is so much more beauty in this world then this prison,” one inmate wrote.

Interestingly, the inmates preferred scenes of wide-open spaces, like deserts, over confined spaces like forests. They especially enjoyed scenes of outer space, like sweeping vistas of colorful stars and nebulae taken by the Hubble Telescope.

Rare "superbloom" in Death Valley, Feb. 17, 2016

Scenes of wide-open spaces appealed to those in confinement the most. Photo by David Coppedge.

Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, who led the study, is considering other possibilities to help people in “nature-starved” environments. “The benefits of nature imagery likely extend far beyond prison inmates, and can positively impact other nature-deprived populations,” Nadkarni says. “More than 5 million people may fit into those populations, including people in prisons, nursing facilities, homeless shelters, military barracks and other institutions and facilities.”

Creation ministries and churches with prison ministries should take note and lead the way into this wonderful opportunity. It should be an adjunct to gospel preaching, not a replacement for it, but nature videos can provide follow-up for prisoners or patients between visits. The Illustra Media inspirational videos on are free and ready to use! Here’s an example. Role-play being in solitary confinement, riddled with guilt, watching this on the wall:

Consider the possibilities with this kind of outreach! And hurry: evolutionists are trying to take this ball and run with it. The press release says that a “grant, from NASA, will bring experts in astrobiology, or the possible conditions of life on other planets, into prisons….” Get there before the Darwinists tell prisoners that stuff happens! How is that going to help them? Prisoners need to know, instead, that the God of creation still has a plan for their lives. Despite the evil they have done, the God who created galaxies, mountains, and all the beauty of nature stands ready to wash them whiter than snow, because of Christ’s death on their behalf.


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