Highly trained, specialized service dogs have been used to improve the physical and emotional health of countless Americans. A new pilot program in Arlington County is integrating service dogs into therapy for inmates in correctional facilities. This program is being led by the Arlington County Sherriff Department and is partnered with People Animals Love (PAL), a D.C. based nonprofit. “Animals give us so much love and joy and expect absolutely nothing in return; that shows a lot of vulnerability and trust in others,” said mental health therapist for Arlington county detention facilities Sonia Shuhart. “The inmates brought this idea to the attention of mental health therapists Aubrey Graham and Sonia Shuhart during Moral Reconation Therapy group,” said Cpt.
By JOSHUA BENDER
Capital News Service
LANSING — The number of prisoners older than 50 has increased 146 percent since 1998, according to Michigan prison officials. This jump from 3,589 prisoners in that age group to 8,819 in 2014 creates a number of health care and cost challenges for state prisons, said Chris Gautz, public information officer for the Department of Corrections. The aging of inmates between 1994 and when she retired in 2012 was stark, said Carol Howes, a retired warden who worked at the Lakeland and Coldwater prisons. “The prisoner population was much sicker,” she said. Lakeland houses elderly inmates and it wouldn’t be uncommon for them to arrive from a hospital for post-operative care, Howes said.
By Katie Winkler
Clinton County Chatter staff reporter
Due to a change in general fund dollars from the State of Michigan, the Clinton County Jail has asked the county for $63,326 to continue mental health services. Since the County bucked up, services will continue. “We have less funding, which means the county has to take on that burden of supplying a mental health worker because our jail can not operate without one,” Clinton County Jail Capt. Monica Hoskins said. Within the last year, Community Mental Health Authority for Clinton, Eaton and Ingham County (CMH), along with other providers across Michigan, were notified that there would be a sufficient decrease in the amount of general funds that would be available to help their communities, including inmates at the Clinton County Jail. The push for Healthy Michigan and Medicaid was presented as a way of dealing with the loss of these funds.
By CORTNEY ERNDT
Capital News Service
LANSING – More community colleges are partnering with the Department of Corrections to educate inmates in hopes of boosting their chances success after release. Inmates qualified for college-level work are using prison classrooms typically used for substance abuse or GED preparation to further their education. Last fall, a pilot program was launched that offered Jackson Community College courses at G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson. Daniel Heyns, Corrections director, said, “The teachers enjoy doing it. The people that are enrolled are motivated students – I’ve heard it said even more motivated than free students.”
He said, “Maybe they value the opportunity a little more.”
Kevin Rose, who teaches computer courses and advises inmates through Jackson Community College, said, “The students were much more engaged and enthusiastic than what I would typically see.”
Rose said the prisoners have a greater appreciation for education than his average students.
By KYLE CAMPBELL
Capital News Service
LANSING — When you imagine a state prison inmate, you might think of someone young and tough with arms covered in tattoos and muscles swollen from hours of pumping iron in the yard. How about wrinkled and gray with arthritic hands gripping a walker or spinning the wheels on a wheelchair? Despite an overall decline in prison population, the number of inmates above the age of 65 has increased 78 percent to 1,073 during the past decade. Those inmates make up about 2.5 percent of the prison system, but with more baby boomers entering old age, that number will only go up, officials warn. It’s a fact the Department of Corrections can’t ignore.