There are various treatment programs in prisons that I have discovered by contacting several organizations. I will described a wide range of programs offered to inmates that help target special needs such as education, behavioral change, spiritual awareness, vocational training, parenting classes, HIV prevention, and drug education. I will describe each treatment programs that I have found and discuss the purposes of each program. A program called the Volunteer Prison Education Program was launched in July 1997 at the Rikers Island Prison.
I called and spoke with Joan Bloomgarden, who described this program as a quality educational experience to inmates who would otherwise not have access to learning. This unique program involves volunteer educators to motivate inmates to help themselves, their families and one another to create a learning community within the prison system. The purpose of this program is to promote positive behavioral change, assist in prevention of crime, work cooperatively with prosecutors, and to actively involve the families of inmates in crime prevention.
Courses offered are Child Development, Understanding Your Anger, Art Education in Prison: Toward Enhancing Self-Esteem, Conflict Resolution: Practical Exploration, Basic Understanding of Money Management, and Basic Eye Care. I contacted The Prison SMART Foundation Incorporated and spoke with Thomas Duffy, who was able to provide me information regarding their unique stress management and rehabilitative training program delivered to hardened criminals in U. S prisons.
The purpose of this program is to teach the proper breathing techniques to help inmates reduce and manage their stress levels in order to help them think more clearly and to help them think about their actions. Taught by Prison SMART Foundation volunteers, this 6 to 10 day program utilizes advanced yoga breathing exercises and is based on the dynamic cleansing effects of the breath on the body and mind. As a result, they enjoy increased self-esteem and self-empowerment.
Thousands who have completed the Prison SMART Foundation’s stress management programs are living proof. Prison administrators have reported that inmates who have participated in this program are easier to handle and exhibit less acting out in confrontational situations. I contacted the Prisoners for Christ Outreach Ministries based in Kirkland, WA, and spoke with Greg Von Tobel, to learn more information about programs offered to inmates.
Prisoners For Christ services include: Church Services and Bible Studies, Two Year Bible Study Correspondence Course, One to One Visitation Outreach, Pen Pal Outreach, Special Projects Outreach, Literature, Heart to Heart Christmas Giving Program, Wives Outreach, Parent Outreach, Van Transportation Outreach, and Northwest Transitional Housing. The purposes of these services are to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the jails, prisons, and juvenile centers of the Northwest.
In addition, Prisoners For Christ work with the men, women, and children who are incarcerated to become fully functioning, tax paying citizens and to assist their families. Statistics shows that last year alone, 16,326 inmates (men, women, and youth) attended these programs in 19 different institutions. About 6% of inmates made their first time commitments to the Lord Jesus Christ. I wanted to learn about several other types of treatment programs offered in prisons, so I contacted the California Department of Corrections. They have implemented several programs designed to benefit both the inmates and the public.
I will briefly describe each of these programs and the purpose each one offers. The Joint Venture Program, opened its doors in 1991, where private employers can contract with the California Department of Corrections to set up their businesses on prison grounds and hire inmate workers at competitive wages. This gives inmates the ability to provide economical benefits such as providing restitution to victims, becoming taxpayers, paying support to families, compensate costs for their incarceration, and mandatory savings to provide funds after release from prison.
The social benefits are the ability to develop good work habits, gain job experience, decrease inmate idleness, and to return to society motivated and skilled adults. The Mother Infant Program is designed to help mothers reestablish bonds with their children, teach them valuable skills, and prepare them to return to society as working adults. Parenting classes, pre-employment training, and drug education classes are offered to help build better parenting relationships and brighter futures for inmates while they serve their time.
In parenting classes, they learn how to talk and relate to their children and how to discipline effectively. Both mothers and children may also receive counseling. In pre-employment training, they gain practical information about applying, landing and keeping a job. Since the majority of the mothers have had some sort of chemical dependency in the past, they also attend drug education classes. The classes are geared to keep them from returning to their old habits, make them aware of the dangers of drug addiction, and show them how drugs not only impair their lives, but especially their children”s.
The California Conservation Camp Program intents to train and use inmates for conservation and development of natural resources. These conservation camps are located in some of the state’s most secluded wilderness areas. They provide a large force of trained crews for fire fighting, resource conservation, and emergency assignments as necessary. In addition to fire fighting, other tasks assigned to inmates are graffiti removal, reforestation, levee repair and flood control, pine bark beetle eradication and preservation, illegal dump site cleanup, wildlife habitat rehabilitation, and park and cemetery maintenance.
During non-work hours inmates are involved in special projects such as repairing toys for disadvantaged children or on projects with the elderly or disabled. In some camps vocational training programs are available. In others, inmates work on a variety of special projects such as road construction and prison building, which allow them to still learn and strengthen skills. As they repay their debt to society, camp inmates provide a real economic benefit to local communities. In a typical year, they will work 2 million hours on fire fighting and fire prevention.
They also will spend almost 6 million hours on conservation projects and community service activities. Those who successfully complete training at prison conservation centers in Northern and Southern California learn how their effectiveness and their lives depend upon discipline and teamwork. When the time comes for parole, inmates have been exposed to good work habits and teamwork in the camp setting. This exposure provides them with a purpose, goals, and a sense of accomplishment in doing a job well done.
Computer refurbishing program, launched in 1994, was developed to refurbish used computers for California’s K-12 public schools. The California Department of Corrections trains inmates to refurbish donated computers then turns them over to the schools. Currently, the California Department of Corrections is responsible for 60 percent of all refurbished computers placed in California public schools. The donated computer equipment comes in various states of disrepair. Some computers are obsolete for business purposes, others need minor repair and still others can only be used for parts.
In the first year, nearly 2,000 refurbished computers made their way to California classrooms. By the end of 1997, 13 prisons had refurbished more than 35,000 computers for California schools, saving them close to $33 million. Through this program, the inmates learn and practice skills that will help prepare them for a future outside prison. I contacted San Quentin State Prison, and spoke to Barry Zack, to find out about any treatment programs offered. One particular program called HIV Prevention Education is required for all men entering the prison.
This program offered since 1986, is to help inmates see the personal side to HIV, increase perception of risk, increase knowledge of HIV/AIDS, and reduce the risk of HIV, STDs, hepatitis and tuberculosis in prison and after release. Since 1991, inmates have received comprehensive peer education training to work as peer educators. The training covers several topics such as public speaking techniques, awareness of alcohol and drugs and their impact on high-risk behaviors, HIV-related multi-cultural awareness, and HIV/AIDS in our society and in the world.
About 40 peer educators are trained each year. After training, the peer educators conducts various services such as teaching an HIV prevention orientation class, providing individual counseling, and providing prevention case management. Two different programs are offered to inmates prior to their release from prison. One program is specifically for HIV + inmates and is offered as a two-week, 8 session intervention that includes such topics as self-esteem, health maintenance, community resources, stress management, substance use, legal issues, and barriers to care after release.
The other program, conducted two weeks prior to an inmate”s release, offers individual sessions to discuss preventing, acquiring, or transmitting HIV after release from prison. Topics covered include using condoms, avoiding drug and alcohol use, and avoiding needle sharing. I contacted The Federal Bureau of Prisons where they currently operate 42 residential treatment programs with an annual capacity of over 6,000 participants.
For the 30 percent of Federal inmates who have a history of moderate to severe substance abuse this program is able to provide drug treatment to all inmates who need it and are willing to accept it. This program offers inmates up to 500 hours of treatment, which focuses on individual responsibility and to deter future criminal behavior. The goal of this program is to help identify, confront, and alter their attitudes, values, and thinking patterns that led them to their criminal behavior and drug or alcohol use.
This program includes sessions on Screening and Assessment, Treatment Orientation, Criminal Lifestyle Confrontation, Cognitive Skill Building, Relapse Prevention, Interpersonal Skill Building, and Wellness. I have found these treatment programs to be suitable and adequate. Each organization, I spoke with has concluded that these programs not only offers benefits to the individual but also to society as a whole. There are economic and social benefits that can be gained from these programs that I have just described.
I have listed a wide range of programs that help target special needs for inmates that may help deter future criminal behavior. We need these programs to help rehabilitate these inmates while they are serving their time in jail. It has been stressed that jail alone cannot deter a criminal from reoffending. By providing these various programs to inmates, we can help them become drug-free, educated, hard-working individuals prior to being released from prison. Hopefully, whatever program an inmate has participated in can help change their behavioral patterns, which may help reduce the rate of recidivism.
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