Pets have always been not only our companions but often even healers. The therapeutic power of cats and dogs has been known for years. These furry companions help us to reduce depression and ᴀɴxɪᴇᴛʏ, feel less lonely, elevate our mood, and even decrease ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ pressure. However, one other aspect of pets’ ability to transform lives often gets overlooked – it’s their capability of helping prison inmates.
One ᴘʀɪsᴏɴ in Indiana saw a similar result when they took in cats from a shelter and visibly saw the impact this decision had on the inmates.
In 2015 Animal Protection League and Pendleton Correctional Facility in Indiana started a program called F.ORWA.R..
The idea behind this initiative is to take animals from a cat shelter and place them in the correctional facility so inmates could take care of them. The program quickly proved to be beneficial for both the adorable cats and inmates.
Many of the cats who were in the shelter had become antisocial due to mistreatment.
This has made them harrd to get adopted. This program helps them regain trust in people thus making it easier to find them a home.
While the cats are being taken care of by ᴘʀɪsᴏɴers who feed them, clean after them, and groom them, the animals become more social and trusting towards humans.
However, cats are not the only ones who benefit from the program. Inmates get a wonderful opportunity to learn how to care for and take responsibility for a living creature.
“I’ve had ᴏffᴇɴᴅers tell me when they got an animal, it was the first time they can remember they were allᴏwing themselves to care about something, to love something,” said the ᴅɪʀᴇᴄᴛᴏʀ of APL, Maleah Stringer.
“It teaches their responsibility, how to interact in a group using non-violent methods to solve problems and gives them the unconditional love of a pet – something many of these inmates have never known,” the APL writes on their website.
This program has been so successful that other similar programs have popped up all over the US.
“The MCKC Program has reduced ᴏffender idleness, taught ᴏffenᴅers about responsibility, and increased their self-esteem. Since the program’s inception, ᴏffenᴅers have been motivated to enroll in school, obtain jobs, obey unit rules, and improve their hygiene so that they may become MCKC participants. The presence of animals on E Unit has added a new calmness to E Unit’s therapeutic milieu and strengthened its community spirit,” Purrfect Pals writes on their website.
However, one particular animal in ᴘʀɪsᴏɴ program made people quite angry. After the release of Dᴇᴀᴛʜ Row 2018, which revolves around the inmates of shelter a State Pʀɪsᴏɴ, people took to social media to express their belief that people convicted for heinous crimes shouldn’t be allᴏwed to keep cats in their cells. Many of the said that inmates couldn’t be trusted with pets.