Today we have a guest article submission. Daphne Holmes article is about reform programs within prisons. Based on my own experience I have to be honest and say I doubt the effectiveness of many of today’s typical prison reform programs — for instance one prison I was at, rehab class consisted of us sitting in a room, without instructor or instruction, for a designated amount of time so that the prison got the credit for a rehabilitation program — but I do agree that “reform” ought to be the main objective, for drug cases. Hope you enjoy the read, send your feedback. And if you would like to be a guest writer for us, just shoot me a note. Peace ~ Magnum
In addition to protecting the public from dangerous criminals, reforming offenders is among the central functions of corrections agencies. A hotly debated topic, rehabilitation strategies at corrections facilities draw attention for their failures, but there are also successful programs operating within the country’s corrections systems.
Each state, and individual facility ultimately control what types of reform programs are made available to inmates, so specific needs are addressed in-house. These programs represent some of the alternatives being utilized to help set prisoners on the proper path to rehabilitation.
Cage Your Rage – This anger management program operates at many correctional facilities, often as an extension of a popular workbook of the same name. The multi-week course helps inmates identify specific causes of anger, subsequently offering recommendations for managing the conditions at the root of their anger issues. Nature vs. Nurture questions are explored, helping offenders recognize how past events come to bear on their present behaviors. Through reading, discussions and written exercises; inmates devise personalized approaches to overcoming anger and aggression.
Canine Programs – The effectiveness of rehabilitative work with animals is proven many times over in medical settings. Patients and elderly residents consistently find comfort and rehabilitation alongside domestic animals. Animals provide similar benefits in corrections settings. In some programs, rescued dogs and cats are paired with inmates responsible for nurturing and training them. The service assists inmates; but it also prepares animals to be placed in loving homes. Obedience training and special service instruction is conducted by offenders, who learn practical animal handling skills as well as compassion and the value of commitment.
Life Without a Crutch Program – This program uses classroom settings, written course materials and personal assignments to help offenders come face to face with their addictive behaviors. Participants learn to see the bigger picture, including how addiction impacts loved ones and others surrounding them. Formal intervention, such as 12-step programs are discussed as well as treatment and counseling alternatives available outside corrections facilities. By incorporating self-assessment into the curriculum, Life Without a Crutch embowers offenders to take control of their own situations. There is evidence of success, including one study which polled inmates who have completed the program. Across the board, offenders’ attitudes and perceptions about drug and alcohol use changed positively after completing the program.
Social Survival Skills Courses – Integrating into society after serving prison time presents unique challenges for inmates unfamiliar with some aspects of modern socialization. Practical skills courses are common features at corrections institutions, sometimes reserved for inmates destined for parole hearings or release dates. Topics like money management and employment practices are explored in ways incarcerated citizens can understand, setting the stage for their success upon release.
Inmates Helping Inmates– Unique programs, including one initiated by Percy Pitzer, a retired warden, which helps inmates help each other. Pitzer’s initiative, launched with $150,000 worth of personal funding, furnishes scholarship money for children of incarcerated parents. Aiming to break the string of poverty and offending that often plagues families with incarcerated members, Pritzer asks inmates to contribute to the fund themselves.
Corrections agencies serve vital functions, including reforming offenders. Various efforts put-forth by facilities across the country are serving inmates well; preparing them for life on the outside and creating access to skills they’ll need once there.