Editorial: Negative Attitude Towards Prisoners Hurts Rehabilitation Efforts

By the Editorial Board of The Daily Campus

Recently, Eric Bolling of “The Five,” a Fox News program, was under well-deserved attack by the illustrious Stephen Colbert for the former’s comments regarding the suicide of Ariel Castro, convicted for 937 criminal charges among which included rape, kidnapping, and aggravated murder. While this article isn’t quite a defense of Castro, it is an attack on Bolling’s statements which posited that taxpayers saved $780,000 by his suicide. Bolling’s argument here is insensitive, even when one considers the magnitude of Castro’s crimes, and is indicative of the negative attitude towards criminals and their opportunity for reform. America wholly believes once a criminal always a criminal, and this social stigma prevents them from re-entering society successfully.  Image courtesy twitter.com

With this in mind, it’s clear why recidivism, or the term to describe former felons re-entering prisons or re-arrested for similar previously committed crimes, is so high in this country and why rehabilitation programs struggle to take effect. When one in thirty-two Americans is on probation, parole or in prison and America has that largest population of criminals (you know, that popular statistic, 5 percent of the global population, 25 percent of its prisoners), one would think that the public attitude towards criminals would be more supportive. Instead, America has collectively decided to abandon these people with the idea that they are a lost cause and deserve the barest of dregs we can throw at them, leaving them to struggle both in and out of the prison system.

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Innovative Prison Program Teaches Man and Dog

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

At Wakulla Correctional Institute in Crawfordville, North Florida, inmates and man’s best friend both get a second chance. Inmates locked up for various serious offenses are transformed by training canines that they have something in common with. Both inmates and dogs had behavior problems that removed them from society. The dogs were facing euthanization for not conforming to the rules. The inmates were facing time behind bars for breaking the law. Both inmates and dogs had a future that looked bleak.  

Susan Yelton and Cathy Sherman, members of Citizens for Humane Animal Treatment, Crawfordville, NF, are responsible for initiating an innovative dog training program at Wakulla Correctional Institute in Crawfordville, Florida. Their idea originated from a program in Texas, Paws for Prison. 

When Yelton and Sherman decided to ascertain whether a dog training program would work in North Florida, their first challenge was convincing Russell Hosford, warden for Wakulla Correctional Institution that it was a good idea to bring misbehaved mutts from the humane society to live with inmates for two months. Hosford’s initial reaction was, “You have to be kidding me; do you mean dogs will be living in the prison barracks with the inmates?”

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