The Fortune Society was founded in New York state to help reduce recidivism by offering non-traditional reentry services such as: Alternatives to Incarceration, drop-in-services, employment services, education, family services, health and housing services, substance abuse treatment, transitional services, recreation and lifetime aftercare.
The P.E.T.S (Pawsitive Education Training Solutions) Program, also known as the Cell Dog Program–is to say the least–heart-warming and life-changing. I challenge you to watch the video and not feel tears of warmth, joy, hope and happiness as you watch the stories of both dogs and man realize they have a second chance in society.
Located within the Kyle Correctional Facility in Austin Texas, the PAWS shelter and Humane Society select timid, abused and neglected dogs to be trained by inmates to become productive and adoptable dogs to the community.
Inmates must apply and be accepted into the training program and then a professional PAWS dog trainer picks and chooses dogs to be integrated into the six week program. Once the inmates and dog are chosen, they will share their lives together for six weeks–24/7–living, learning and caring for each other.
The mission of the Prison University Project is “to provide excellent higher education programs to people incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison; to create a replicable model for such programs; and to stimulate public awareness and meaningful dialog about higher education and criminal justice in California.”
The image of a hardened and tattooed prison inmate riding a semi-wild Mustang horse in the deserts of Nevada certainly are not what you would expect to see. Yet, through the Stewart Conservation Camp Saddle Horse Training Program and the Northern Nevada Correctional Facility this unlikely pairing of hardened, imprisoned human and horse are providing worthwhile ranch horses and bringing a sense of self-confidence and worth to prison inmates.
The Northern Nevada Correctional Center/Stewart Conservation Saddle Horse Training Program is a cooperative partnership between the Bureau of Land Management, the Nevada Department of Corrections and the Nevada Department of Agriculture.
Providing a Second Chance Through Education.
The belief and statistics show that educated prisoners have a greatly reduced rate of recidivism and make valuable contributions to society upon release from their prison sentence.
Based at the College of New Jersey, The Center for Prison Outreach and Education provides educational programming to local inmates with college professors and students teaching the inmates. The courses offered are credit-bearing and other forms of academic tutoring are available to enrich the lives of those living behind bars.
In a daring experiment, the very elite Connecticut University, Wesleyan University, has created a fledging, privately funded college prison education program held at the high-security Chesire Correctional Institution located in Connecticut.
One of the reasons that The Center for Prison Education program is unique among other inmate programs, is the rigorous application process. Only fifteen to nineteen students are selected at a time from both Chesire and McDougal Prisons. All selected students are transferred to Chesire Prison where they are then enrolled in accredited college courses taught by Weslyan University faculty members.
Another reason this college prison education program is different from other existing programs, is the CPE (The Center for Prison Education) offers a diverse curriculum of Wesleyan courses in the humanities, and natural and social sciences, which can range from sociology and English to chemistry and psychology. According to Cathy Lechowicz, director of community service and volunteerism and advisor to the CPE program, “the courses will be as rigorous as the courses that are taught on Wesleyan’s regular campus.”
In Yavapai County, Arizona, exists a wonderful organization called Yavapai Reentry Project, a group of non-profit organizations, government offices and community members that have come together to help recently released prisoners transition into society. The Mission Statement for the Yavapai Reentry Program is: “we are a regional support system which promotes successful reintegration of former inmates in a way that improves community safety by reducing criminal behavior.”
In 1989, a federal prisoner named Fleet Maull, founded the Prison Dharma Network. The mission of the Prison Dharma Network is to provide ” a contemplative support network for prisoners, prison volunteers and corrections professionals. The Prison Dharma Network provides the most effective contemplative tools for self-transformation and rehabilitation.”
In 1996, the Bedford Hills College Program was founded so provide women inmates incarcerated at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility located in New York State and a maximum security prison for women. In association with the Correctional Facility is Marymount Manhattan College who offers non-credited College-preparatory courses and credit bearing courses that may lead to she women inmates receiving an Associate of Arts degree in Social Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Sociology.
Founded in 2008, the Saint Louis University Prison Program began by offering certification in Theological Studies to a mere 15 male prisoners incarcerated at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center. The first class graduated in 2010. And even during these difficult and tumultuous economic times, a grant from the Hearst Foundation in 2010 enabled the Saint Louis University Prison Program to offer an Associate of Arts Degree to both prisoners and prison staff. This is a very generous and heart-felt grant.