Prison is an institution built to punish those who have committed injustices against people, communities, or society as a whole. Prisons exist to serve justice to those who break the law. But this doesn’t mean inmates don’t deserve second chances. Even those who commit crimes have the opportunity to redeem themselves and change for the better. This is why prison rehabilitation programs exist. Here are some successful programs that prove anyone can change.
Blackstone Career Institute
Blackstone was founded in 1890 and offers Paralegal programs for inmates. The institute helps with distance learning for those who are incarcerated, and their transition back into society after being released. Inmates enrolled with Blackstone have been less likely to get rearrested, found more job prospects, and overall have higher self-esteem. One inmate named Clark, had this to say about Blackstone’s program, “This course not only helped me serve my time, but it also gave me confidence that I completed a program that may lead to a future career. I’m going home with a certificate, not just prison stories”.
The Timelist Group
Yusef Wiley, a former inmate himself, started the program in 2006 while he was still incarcerated at Avenal State Prison in California. His goal was and still is to offer rehabilitation to prisoners in ways that the government fails to. Many prisons across the world fail to offer rehabilitation for issues besides alcohol, drugs, and anger management. Timelist is a passion project for Wiley, whose life has revolved around gang violence, which is what landed him in jail. He spent a year in solitary confinement for assaulting a guard, and he used that time to study Islam. Once he got out, he got his GED and began his path to change and help others change as well. Timelist offers around 12 courses and most of the staff members are ex-convicts or inmates themselves. Courses like entrepreneurship, gang recovery, sober living, and others are offered, which help in the holistic development of inmates and give them the chance to have careers after prison. The reason why this program is so effective is that the inmates are moved by those who have been in the same situation as them, and can relate to their struggles. Staff at Avenal State Prison confirmed that none of the inmates in the program have returned to the prison since their release.
Phoenix Freedom Expressions
Central Prison, Kannur, is famous for having a men’s beauty parlor situated inside the jail. The salon is run by inmates of the prison, and the rates for services offered are cheaper than those in other salons in Kannur. A haircut costs only 50 rupees, and the salon runs from 9am to 5:30 pm, with almost 80 visitors per day. The initial plan of the prison authorities was to teach the inmates such skills so they would be better equipped to get jobs after their release, but the prisoners suggested the idea of opening a salon. The inmates of Central Prison are no strangers to new ideas, as the prison also has farms, and shops and the inmates learn skills like cooking, plumbing, electrical work, painting, and so on.
People deserve a second chance at life. And these programs grant them the chance to live again, in the right way.
About the Author: Sidharth is a second-year MBBS student studying at Kasturba Medical College, Manipal.