Okay, I got sidetracked last night into posting about the CTV bias covering the Hamas/Israel crisis, but I really wanted to continue with the discussion about prisons and whether they are effective or not. I talked about juveniles and how farm camps might be a better solution than prison. Next, let's look at women in prison.
I am much like most Canadians, I have never been involved with any criminal activities, although I did get called up for jury duty once (I was rejected because they were looking for grandma types). I read the newspaper, form an opinion and condemn people from my couch. It's easy because I think I am safe from those criminal elements.
Women in prison, is this the place for them? I'm not sure, but I have met some of them, and maybe prison for a short period of time is helpful. It depends on the people who they can react with and the programs that are available.
I volunteered to go to the woman's prison in Edmonton so they could learn how to train a dog. We never asked them why they were there, but the leader of the group admitted that her boyfriend got her involved in drug dealing, and one girl who didn't look a day over 15 was a prostitute.
I'm sure you have heard of the programs that allow dogs into prisons, this was something like those programs, except the dogs did not stay in the prison. We brought dogs into the prison and showed the ladies how to walk them and train them to understand commands like sit, down and stay. Attendance was 100% and many who had not signed up for the course were jealous of those who got to play/train the dogs.
To the point:
What struck me most was that these women seriously wanted to change their lives, but they would be released back into the very situation that had gotten them into trouble in the first place. A mean boyfriend, a pimp waiting to get that youngster back into his stable, that was what was waiting for these ladies.
The dogs provided them with an escape into the possibilities, like a dog grooming business, or selling pure bred puppies to provide them an income. The dogs didn't care what they had done, they didn't judge, they didn't demand anything, what they did was to provide a chance for these ladies to love without condition or fear. Unfortunately, not enough volunteers came forward to keep the program working, but the prison could have instituted their own program.
The ladies were charmed by the dogs, but they were also intrigued by us, the human volunteers. We were told not to give ANY personal information except our first names, but you could still talk about your family life, and the ladies questioned us about all sorts of things. Most of them did not know what a normal family was, and hearing things like what we cooked for supper fascinated them.
What is missing from the prisons is real people, with real lives willing to share stories and expose themselves to the criminal element. They need to see people who do not judge them. They need to understand what a real family can be like, they need to take responsibility for their actions, but society needs to provide real help to these ladies. Releasing them into the same situation that lead them into prison is not going to change their lives. Taking a dog training course while in prison might lift their spirits, but it's not going to change their after prison life. Only they can do that, no matter how much we want to help them.