|Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution's JLAD Program|
|By Jackie Peck, Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution|
Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution teamed up with The Joys of Living Assistance Dogs, JLAD, based in Salem to train and place dogs for people with physical disabilities and veterans with PTSD. The first six puppies were received on April 18, 2016, since that time, EOCI has increased to 16 dogs and 36 carefully selected inmate handlers. These handlers use this program to provide a more focused and intense training program which is increasing the number of canines attaining the status of a service dog.
Benefit of this program:
The Institution and its inmates will gain the volunteer experience: patience, communication skills, companionship, confidence, love and a greater sense of purpose. It has been shown at other institutions that this type of program reduces recidivism rates and the inmates gain valued skills such as: teamwork, improved communication, patience, discipline, job skills, structure, self-discipline and trust.
The need for Services Dogs in Oregon and surrounding areas has seen a large increase. The JLAD program currently has a 3 year wait list – EOCI is greatly assisting this need.
How has this program been going?:
The dogs in this program have exceeded other programs. They are months ahead of the training schedule. Of the most recent 6 puppies (ages 5 and 6 months old) all have passed the one year testing.
Effect on the inmates:
The inmates who are directly involved are very appreciative of this opportunity. For many of these inmates, it is an opportunity to care for someone other than themselves and it is extremely rewarding experience. These dogs live with their inmate handlers; attending all activities throughout the institution and during recreational time.
You see smiles on the faces of the handlers and see the emotions and care that they provide for these dogs.
Effect on Inmate Population as a whole:
You see smiles when they walk by and see theses puppies. The inmates ask for opportunities to pet the puppies and look forward to seeing them in the yard during play times.
For many of these inmates, it has been many years since they have seen a puppy – for one inmate handler it had been 17 years.
The Institution and its inmates will gain the volunteer experience: patience, communication skills, companionship, confidence, love and a greater sense of purpose.
It has been shown at other institutions that this type of program reduces recidivism rates and the inmates gain valued skills such as: teamwork, improved communication, patience, discipline, job skills, structure, self-discipline and trust.
Upon completion of this program, these service dogs will be fully trained dogs: opening doors, turning on/off lights, retrieving dropped items including medication, getting help, interrupting and redirecting their partner's nightmares. Moreover, our dogs provide their pre-selected partners with freedom, independence and a new sense of hope and confidence.
JLAD has a considerable demand to provide more service dogs. Sadly, a significant impediment in providing the dogs is not having enough puppy raisers. JLAD can only train as many puppies as it has raisers. Implementing the Institution program has increased the number of puppies trained three-fold.
Jackie Peck is the Supervising Executive Assistant to the Superintendent J. Taylor. Her role includes being the Public Information and Legal Information Officer for the Institution. EOCI is a medium-security prison in Pendleton, Oregon that houses over 1,700 male inmates. She can be reached via email at Jackie.A.Peck@doc.state.or.us. Visit http://joydogs.org/ for more information on their program.
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