Arkansas may be the last place anyone would think of when it comes to progressive prison programs, but the state does boast one that’s helping inmates while saving the lives of local shelter dogs.
Paws in Prison is a training program that rescues dogs in shelters from euthanization. Those dogs are coupled with inmates who provide obedience training, readying the animals for adoption.
A spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Correction recently explained it’s a second chance for both dogs and inmates.
But it’s not for everyone; prisoners have to earn the right to participate. In the video, dog trainer Carrie Kessler says: “It’s a program that encourages and rewards their good behavior.”
And it also gives inmates a deeper sense of purpose. James Dulaney, a program participant, said, “And not only I’ve been looking for ways to just—even if it’s small—to give back to society in some way.”
Since it started a year and a half ago, about 200 rescue dogs have been trained and adopted because of the Paws in Prison program.
Earning the right to take care of something is a common theme in some inmate programs, like the Sustainability in Prison Project. Based in Washington state, SPP provides inmates the opportunity to participate in scientific studies where they’re tasked with growing certain type of plants, or raising particular insects.
The program actually trains inmates for the green-collar jobs they hope to land once they’ve served their time.
But not all the inmates who participate in Paws in Prison are necessarily training for a job on the outside. Some have life sentences. The point of the program is ultimately one of therapy, both for the dogs and the men tasked with providing their care.
Do you think programs like Paws in Prison are helpful for rehabilitation? Let us know in the Comments.