A guest blog article by Molly Bina (student, world citizen)
For as long as there have been misunderstood criminals, there has been reasons behind their anger and sadness. Were they not given enough attention at home? Did they ever get told I love you? The beautiful aspect all animals share is the fact that they don’t care if your covered in tattoos and robbed a liquor store. They just want your unconditional love and in return, they will give it to you too. There has been a long tradition of inmates keeping birds, rats, and other pets in jail secretly. Even the most rugged, tough as nails murderers can have their heart melt from a companion animal, and society is now finally seeing this (Carpentieri 2001).
The emotional bond anyone has with animals is unbreakable. Studies are now revealing that allowing prisoners who are in medium or minimum security prisons are allowed companion pets allowing them to keep their head above water and develop an affectionate aspect to their psyche.
Staff at the Oakwood Forensice Center, which is a maximum security prison from the criminally insane, noticed their prisoners were becoming more sociably friendly and charismatic (Carpentieri 2001). They delved deeper and discovered some of the inmates were nursing back to health a sick sparrow they had found in the prison yard. The center became intrigued with the idea and started allowing certain patients to keep compared pets for a research study. The results were remarkable. The prisoners in the pet ward became less violent, more cooperative, and only needed half the medication they were once prescribed.
The story spread and more prisons began allowing certain wards to keep animals. One of the most effective rehabilitation tactics that is being used today is dog training programs in prisons (Flynn 2011). Purdy Correctional Centre for Women in Washington is famous for this. Prison Tails, a program founded in 2004, uses this center and a few others across the United States to give these pups a second chance. They take abandoned, “unadoptable”, end-of-their-rope dogs (much like the women in the prison) and give them a new chance. It’s a win-win situation.
These women receive their dog training certificate – a small amount actually get accepted into the program. Not only does this program help the emotional aspect with the prisoners, it teaches them a trade. When they are released into the real world they have a degree that can get them a career in almost any industry with companion animals.
These inmates receive a new “untrain-able” dog every four to six weeks. They give their new friend 15 to 20 minutes of training five times a day and on their off times are responsible for grooming, feeding, and of course, affection. These dogs live in the cells with the prisoner, and most of the time sleep in their bed with them. After developing such an emotional bond to these dogs, you can see why the trainers work their hardest to make them pass the American Kennel Club Obedience test at the end of their time together. Dogs that are unable to pass this test will not be adopted out and put to sleep (Flynn 2011).
Prison Tails, Prison Pet Partnership, Freedom Tails, and Wisconsin Correctional Liberty Dog Program are some of the many foundations now blooming from this recent success in prison welfare (Blackman 2012). Almost every state in America allows some sort of animal therapy in their prisons, and its no surprise that the industry keeps getting bigger. These dogs, much like their trainees, have been through difficult times, spending most of their lives on the street. They come together and learn to love and both leave the program happier, full of love, and a new passion for their life.
What you should think about now, would you adopt a dog that was trained by an inmate?
Blackman, Diane. 2012. “Prisons and Other Animal Facilitated Rehabilitation Programs.” Dog Play. 4 January 2012. Web. Date accessed 29 Nov. 2012. <http://www.dogplay.com/Activities/Therapy/program.html>.
Carpentieri, J. D. 2001. “Jail House Flock.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 24 August 2001. Web. Date accessed 29 Nov. 2012. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2001/aug/25/weekend7.weekend3>.
Flynn, Kaitlin. 2011. “A Second Chance For Dogs and Prisoners.” Global Animal. 1 August 2011. Web. Date accessed 29 Nov. 2012. <http://www.globalanimal.org/2011/08/01/a-second-chance-for-dogs-and-prisoners/27820/>.