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

26 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2016  

Paul J. Larkin Jr.

The Heritage Foundation

Date Written: December 1, 2016

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. In-mates 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.

Keywords: Prisoners, Dogs, Rehabilitation, Prisoner-Dog Training Programs

Suggested Citation

Larkin, Paul J., Death Row Dogs, Hard Time Prisoners, and Creative Rehabilitation Strategies: Prisoner-Dog Training Programs (December 1, 2016). Catholic University Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2879126

Paul James Larkin Jr. (Contact Author)

The Heritage Foundation ( email )

214 Massachusetts Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002-4999
United States
202-608-6190 (Phone)

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