Thanks to the Daily Yomiuri Online for this article.
Inmates to raise guide dogs in private sector jail project
The Yomiuri Shimbun
A prison operated by the private sector, scheduled to open in Shimane Prefecture in October 2008, will introduce a unique correctional education program in which inmates raise guide dogs for the blind, it has been learned. The program aims to foster respect for life among inmates and let them experience satisfaction attained by contributing to society.
The Shimane Asahi Shakai Fukki Sokushin Center (Shimane Asahi Social Rehabilitation Promotion Center), in the city of Hamada, will be the nation’s fourth private sector-run prison. In a first involving the use of animals at a Japanese correctional facility, the prison will also have inmates develop mental and physical fortitude by working with a horse.
The Justice Ministry established the nation’s first private sector-run correctional facility in Mine, Yamaguchi Prefecture, in April with the private financing initiative (PFI) formula, tapping private funds and know-how to build and operate the public facility. Another two private prisons are expected to open next month in Kakogawa, Hyogo Prefecture, and Sakura, Tochigi Prefecture.
The Shimane prison will house 2,000 inmates with relatively minor criminal records and who are serving terms of one year to less than eight years. Most of the operation will be consigned to a business group set up by firms including major general contractor Obayashi Corp. and security specialist Alsok Co.
The program, which will be conducted in cooperation with the Japan Guide Dog Association, will have inmates raise puppies, with classes on dog-walking and obedience training. A guide dog puppy should be raised with love and care by humans from birth, since building a relationship of trust is essential to transform a puppy into a guide dog. Currently, the association consigns raising puppies to volunteers.
According to persons with knowledge of the situation, some prisons and juvenile reformatories in the United States have programs in which inmates raise puppies that later will become guide dogs, service dogs for handicapped people or explosives-detecting dogs.
The prison programs have been proven to decrease violence among inmates and foster a sense of responsibility and compassion for others. They also helped some inmates become pet groomers or veterinary assistants after release from prison, preventing recidivism.