This one reported by USA Today is another in many creative ways to allow prisoners to do work that is socially good and economically productive.

An excerpt.

“LITTLEROCK, Washington (AP) — Taylor Davis has dedicated himself to saving endangered Oregon spotted frogs. He spends hours each day tending to eggs or doting on tadpoles, feeding, nurturing and meticulously recording their development.

“He’s in no hurry.

“We have nothing but time here,” said the 28-year-old Davis.

“He added, “It’s perfect for a prison setting.”

“Washington state inmates such as Davis have been working as ecological research assistants, partnered in recent years with scientists doing conservation projects. Their efforts include breeding threatened butterflies and growing native flowers and prairie grasses.

“The programs are part of a push by the state Department of Corrections that has gained momentum recently, with one project earning an expansion grant from a federal agency this year and prison officials from across the country visiting Washington state penitentiaries in recent weeks to inspect the various projects.

“At Cedar Creek Corrections Center, a medium-security prison in western Washington, Davis and another inmate, Mathew Henson, have been nurturing a batch of small black-spotted frogs that will be ready for release into the wild Monday.

“It’s an ironic twist. Davis is serving 10 years for stealing cars. And Henson is doing more than five years for robbery and assault.

“But both have been granted a high level of confidence.

“It’s quite a leap of faith to let someone handle endangered frog eggs,” said Dan Pacholke, prisons director for the state Department of Corrections.

“Prison officials say it’s a logical pairing. They consider inmates ideal candidates for conservation projects since they can work in a controlled environment and have a lot of time to dedicate. The research also allows inmates to contribute a broader social good, officials say.”