Spending time with animals is known to heal us. There is a therapeutic aura with dogs and cats, and we have since long, respected and welcomed it. Most animals help us cope with depression, anxiety and even serve as the best companions EVER, because they elevate our moods and decrease blood pressure, and their ability to heal and transform lives is displayed best as they help convicted offenders.
Teaming up with the Animal Protection League, the state of Indiana started an AMAZING project at the Pendleton Correctional Facility called F.O.R.W.A.R.D back in 2015, and this is a truly brilliant idea. Felines in shelters are placed in this correctional facility, and each inmate is in charge of their care. This initiative soon became an amazing phenomenon for both the inmates and the cats.
Many of these cats have been sitting in the shelters for a long time as they are less desirable for adoptees. The F.O.R.W.A.R.D program offers them love and patience until forever homes are found for them. The prisoners at the Pendleton Correctional Facility feed, groom and clean after these shelter felines, allowing them to start trusting again.
Along with the cats, the inmates are also benefitting highly through this program, since they are provided the opportunity to learn compassion and to care for something that needs love and responsibility, and this is a commitment all of the need to understand as well.
Maleah Stringer, the Director of APL says “I’ve had offenders tell me when they got an animal, it was the first time they can remember they were allowing themselves to care about something, to love something.” The APL also writes on their website saying “It teaches them responsibility, how to interact in a group of non-violent methods to solve problems and gives them the unconditional love of a pet – something many of these inmates have never known.”
Programs such as these are widely spreading across US prisons, and Monroe Correctional Complex – Special Offender Unit is also joining hands with the organization called Purrfect Pals. On their website, Purrfect Pals has written “The MCKC Program has reduced offenders idleness, taught offenders about responsibility and increased their self-esteem. Since the program’s inception, offenders 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 the E Unit has added a new calmness to E Unit’s therapeutic milieu and strengthened its community spirit.”
This story, which aired in 2018, showed its viewers the story of Indiana State Prison allowing its Death Row inmates to have cats in their cells, making people pretty angry. People highly believed that felons who are convicted of such heinous crimes should not be allowed to have the responsibility of caring for animals, because they say that they cannot be trusted.