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Dog Training Programs in Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections

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Perceived Effectiveness for Inmates and Staff

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Regardless of the effectiveness of nonhuman animal programs to reduce recidivism among offenders, such programs are popular and used widely in the United States correctional system. Proponents cite measured improvements in attitudes and behaviors among prisoners, and report benefits from building trust with local and national organizations. The present study compared responses from inmates and staff associated with dog training programs in Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections. Generally, all participants viewed the dog training program positively, agreeing that it reduced recidivism and inmate misconduct, and increased morale and positive social interactions. Inmates perceived the programs to be more effective than staff for reducing recidivism and for improving marketable skills. Female participants and participants from female institutions agreed more that the programs decreased recidivism and non-violent incidents in prison, and brought all inmates together as a community, compared to male participants and those from male institutions, respectively. Policy implications are also discussed.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Criminal Justice, West Chester University Pennsylvania ; 2: Department of Criminal Justice, West Chester University Pennsylvania ; 3: Omega Prime, LLC


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