Convict clinicians - Page 2

How employing inmates and ingenuity can help the prison system really be about rehabilitation

In 2010, a small cohort of determined prisoners established an arrangement with Palo Verde College to learn drug counseling.

In-custody substance abuse treatment followed by aftercare is most effective when total exposure lasts two to three years. It's also very expensive. Post-secondary training tied to long-term treatment is fiscally and socially responsible — cutting right to the heart of criminal thinking, anger, and addiction. Our specialized studies empower us to develop promising methods that can be delivered for next to nothing.

We follow the evidence. A rehabilitative oversight committee identified adult education and addiction as the two greatest criminogenic needs not being met. In response, a handful of us formed Inside Solutions, an evidence-based think-tank, and designed a program that addresses these unmet needs.

Starting in the summer of 2011, college-educated tutors began helping illiterate offenders raise their test scores while the ADS students began facilitating cognitive-lifeskills workshops. By establishing a voluntary program that doesn't impact the budget, we are delivering group-oriented treatment to those who need it the most. One prisoner helping another is power without equal. Delivering programs doesn't take a lot of money — it takes ingenuity, passion, and tenacity. We do things for pennies on the dollar, and we wouldn't even know what to do with the type of funds it takes to mismanage a fully-staffed program. Rather than some bunk program ran by a bunch of timecard punching half-assers, we remain true to our cost-effective roots by making something out of nothing. More bang for the buck is the motto of our method. For years, I felt like I was buried alive on the banks of the Recidivism River. Not anymore. Now I'm on a collective sojourn of systemic self-actualization. Accumulating multiple ADS certifications, college degrees and delivering treatment is a life-changing convergence of therapeutic alchemy. I have been transformed by the process of turning convict lead into clinical gold — social justice of the highest order. If we had a budget to match our enthusiasm, I can only imagine. In the here and now, not bad for a bunch of criminals.