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December 8, 2016

"Death Row Dogs, Hard Time Prisoners, and Creative Rehabilitation Strategies: Prisoner-Dog Training Programs"

The title of this post is the title of this intriguing looking new paper authored by Paul Larkin now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The use of Prisoner-Dog Programs (PDPs) is an innovative rehabilitative strategy that takes advantage of the bond that humans have had with dogs for thousands of years. Numerous state correctional facilities, along with the BOP, have adopted these programs to give prisoners, and sometimes dogs, a second chance.  The informal results witnessed to date appear positive for everyone concerned.

Inmates benefit because the animal-training instruction they receive, along with the experience they acquire training dogs in their care, provides them with a skill that they can use after their release.  More importantly, the relationship that a prisoner builds with his dog teaches him the need to achieve a goal; the importance of discipline and patience, along with disutility of violence, in being successful; the value and sense of self-worth in empathizing and caring for another creature; and, perhaps for the first time, the emotional bond with another living creature that allows him to feel and express love.  Dogs benefit because they escape their own death row and find their own “forever” homes.  Prisons benefit because the close interaction between prisoners and dogs leads to a reduction in the number of infractions and amount of violence. Members of the community benefit by receiving a dog that can become a service dog or a treasured family member. And society benefits from a reduction in the recidivism rate of participating inmates.  That is a “win-times-five.”

Prisoners, private parties, private organizations, correctional officials, and observers have all offered testimonials to the worthwhile effects of PDPs.  Dogs have done so too, in their own way.  To prove the utility of PDPs as a valuable rehabilitative strategy, Congress should instruct the GAO or the Justice Department to analyze existing PDPs to determine whether they are operating effectively and efficiently.

December 8, 2016 at 05:38 PM | Permalink


Perhaps, they can train police dogs. Those are worth $10,000. Upon release, they can start a lucrative business. They can also implant secret instructions for the dog to turn and to attack the police when being chased in the future.

Impediments to return to gainful employment:

1) Character portions of licensing requirements.

2) High risk of negligent hiring claims in all ordinary tort claims against employers. Your guy hits something driving your truck, now you are facing a negligent hiring claim, not covered by truck insurance. Why bother?

3) Lack of traditional education and skills.

4) Actual poor moral character, where a felon is actually an evil person, who will disrupt and kill a business.

5) The low pay of honest work, the high pay of crime.

6) Hood culture and attitudes not consistent with customer service.

7) High rates of ADHD, part of which consists in not finishing work, and impulsive walking off a job if criticized, even in the slightest.

8) Prior and current dedication to the full time pursuit of the shortcut to self confidence and well being afforded by addictive substances. Why get a college education, when its gratification can be duplicated by smoking a $5 crack rock? Before deriding such values, think harder. Who is stupid? Someone who spends $200,000, and four years to achieve something to feel gratified, or someone who arrives at the same feeling for $5 in 5 minutes?

These and others add up to making rehabilitation a form of lawyer quackery. 9) Lawyer quackery, should be added to the list above.

Posted by: David Behar | Dec 8, 2016 8:47:45 PM

Dog training programs for prison inmates bear many kinds of fruit. About 5 years ago, the inmates at Northpoint Training Center in Boyle County, Kentucky rioted and burned their living units, causing $13 million of damage. The exception among the rioting inmates was those inmates living in an Honor Dorm, who trained dogs! Instead of rioting and burning, they brought their dogs outside to the grass and laid next to the them or on top of them, to protect the dogs. Their living unit was the only one in the prison that was not burned that night. The author of this paper ought to look into this example and use it as a powerful case study to prove his point.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Dec 10, 2016 11:40:10 AM

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