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History of Prison Programmes

 

History

For many years it has been recognised that animals provide psychological benefits through the provision of social support to their owners and others with whom they interact. It is for this reason that dogs (cats and even birds, rabbits, and fish) have been increasingly relied upon to serve as therapy animals in institutional settings as diverse as hospitals, nursing homes, juvenile detention centers, mental hospitals, and prisons.The first modern programme to use dogs in a prison setting began in 1981 in the Washington Correction Center for Women in Gig Harbour, Washington.

 

Prison Programmes

Prison programmes internationally take on a variety of forms. In one of the most common, sometimes called “second chance” programmes, prisoners take unwanted dogs from local animal shelters, provide obedience training, and return them for adoption. Prisoners in many other institutions provide early socialisation or final training for assistance dogs who serve individuals with disabilities. From the perspective of prison administrators, dog-training programs have many apparent advantages.

They serve the very important function of keeping prisoners busy, always a concern in medium and maximum security prisons. The programmes are relatively inexpensive; and they offer considerable potential for improving relations between institutions and communities. The latter is a particularly promising prospect in an environment in which the public seems increasingly willing to view inmates as anti-social monsters, incapable of doing anything positive.

 

Research

These programmes are undeniably popular and intuitively make sense. There is anecdotal evidence of how the prisoners' lives are changed and how the programmes improve institutional environments. There is a growing body of academic research which attempts to provide qualitative data on the imapct of these programmes. If you are interested in reading some of the current international rearch on these programmes, please refer to the following:

 

A History of Prison Inmate-Animal Interaction Programs  

Prisoner futures: Sensing the signs of generativity

Earl O. Strimple, American Behavorial Scientist

 

Prisoner futures  

Prisoner futures: Sensing the signs of generativity

Mark Halsey Flinders University, Australia
Vandra Harris RMIT University, Australia


Prison pups assessing effects

Prison Pups: assessing the effects of dog training programs in correctional facilities

Dana M. Britton, PhD and Andrea Button, MA

 

Prison and Pups

Prisons and Pups - An Examination of Service Dog Training and their weekend families

Kendra Garcia

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