One may not think that reading a Shakespeare monologue while being incarcerated in prison could eventually lead to obtaining a higher education degree, however, with the Women’s Prison Shakespeare Program, located within the Huron Valley Women’s Correctional Complex in Michigan state, women have achieved these dreams.

Reading Shakespeare helps these women build real world skills, such as public speaking, and creative thinking – skills that are necessary when these women are released into the community. Reading aloud also allows the women to express emotions that they may not be able to express otherwise.

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Did you know that California has the largest prison system in the nation? There are over 46 adult prison/correctional facilities that incarcerate almost 200,000 men and women – and this leaves nearly 200,000 children without one or more parent. Those are shocking numbers!

Children of incarcerated parents are often left in either foster homes or with grandparents. They can spend years not knowing what it is like to grow up with a family bond.

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Being incarcerated in prison can be very lonely. Isolated from friends and family, inmates often have little contact with the outside world. Imagine how important it can be to a prisoner to receive a letter from someone who can talk about day-to-day events in the outside world.

Studies show that prisoners who have frequent contact with society outside of prison walls, are less likely to recommit a crime, helping to reduce recidivism rates.

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Imagine the love a dog that is on his “last days” at an animal shelter must feel when they are unconditionally loved by a human that at one time abused them. Imagine the love an incarcerated woman feels when she can help earn the trust of an abused dog.

This is one of the beautiful aspects of the Pups on Parole program. In partnership with the Heaven Can Wait Animal Society and the Jean and Southern Nevada Correctional Facility, dogs that are scheduled to be euthanized are rescued by Heaven Can Wait Animal Society volunteers and paired with women inmates to give them a second chance.

 

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Prison inmates cuddling and caring for fuzzy felines in a prison cell? That seems an unlikely picture. Yet, through an innovative and brand-new program at the Larch Correctional Facility in Washington State, a few very select inmates and a couple of really lucky cats have the opportunity to help each other learn responsibility, compassion and unconditional love. The Larch Correctional Facility is a minimum-security prison in Yacolt, Washington. In cooperation with the local animal shelter, the program includes two cats and four inmates.

By way of the love and rehabilitation for these forgotten felines, the inmates learn how to think about more than just themselves.

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Being incarcerated can be an emotional whirlwind and if left unchecked with no calm way to release stress, inmates can often release pent up stress and frustration in violent ways.

Prison SMART is an organization that works with probation departments, family and juvenile court systems, administrators and correctional officers of penal institutions and law enforcement departments.

This program is provided for by the International Association For Human Values, which is dedicated to the development and promotion of human values in society.

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Imagine that you are an at-risk young woman, or have been involved in gangs and are given the opportunity to become a contributing member of society instead of being incarcerated? This is exactly what Homegirl Cafe & Catering accomplish.

In 1981 Chef Patricia Zarate left her homeland on Guadalajara, Mexico and moved to Southern California. She fell in love with all things food and became a chef. During this time she became very close with a Jesuit pastor by the name of Greg Boyles. Pastor Boyles and Chef Pati worked together with gangs in the Boyle Heights area of Southern California. In addition, Chef Pati prepared home cooked meals around the local community and opened her first restaurant. Here she employed at-risk young women.

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Women incarcerated at the Washington Corrections Center for Women have united together to create a community with the prison called-The Womens Village.

The idea for The Womens Village came about as both women inmates and staff wanted to create a more positive community environment and to help incarcerated women change their thinking and help to culture a more positive prison environment, especially for long-term prisoners.

The women involved with The Womens Village realized that they could utilize each and everyone of their unique strengths to create a prison culture based on the pursuit of personal excellence.

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Stray cats and kittens–hardened criminals with mental health disabilities. What do they have in common? Walking into the maximum security Indiana State Prison you will find stray cats that have given birth to kittens and from that began the cat therapy program that prisoners claim are helping to change their lives.

Inmates take in the stray cats and kittens and care for them in all ways–learning responsibility, caring, compassion and love. Many of these prisoners are in for hard-core crimes and many of them also have mental health problems and caring and bonding with the fuzzy kittens and cats brings out an unexpected tenderness.

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