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Transformative Programming for Prisoners in Solitary Confinement: The Houses of Healing Self-Study Program

18/09/17 COMMENTS 0

The Lionheart Foundation’s Houses of Healing (HOH) program has had a life-changing impact for thousands of the men and women involved in the criminal justice system.  In 2016, Lionheart created an unprecedented 14-session program based on HOH – The Houses of Healing Self-study Course for Prisoners in Solitary Confinement that has been piloted, with great success, to prisoners in three Supermax prisons in CA over the past year.  Lionheart is moving forward to promote the program to prison systems in additional states.

In solitary, there is usually no programming available and prisoners naturally degrade psychologically.  Research indicates that the prolonged isolation associated with solitary confinement adversely impacts individuals’ physical and mental health.  The HOH Self-study Course for Prisoners in Solitary Confinement proposed herein will not only offer a connection to the larger world with weekly mailings over a period of four months, but will also deliver a program shown to reduce depression, anxiety and anger, the psychological symptoms associated with solitary confinement, while bolstering emotional competency skills.

More than 450 prisoners confined to solitary confinement in the CA prison system (referred to as Special Housing Units or the SHU in CA) registered voluntarily to participate in the course, reflecting the enormous need and desire for support.  There have been 160 evaluations returned from the CA prisoners thus far. 100% of these prisoners indicated that they would recommend the program to others. The vast majority indicated having a greater sense of hopefulness, gaining practical skills to manage the intense stress of solitary, and gaining insights that are helping them heal from both the trauma of solitary and what is usually a trauma-impacted early life. The profound impact of the pilot study on these prisoners has led to the approval by the CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for Lionheart to recruit additional prisoners and carry out a formal research project in 2017-2018.

Most of these prisoners will be released back into society.  The goal of this program is to offer these men and women effective tools needed to cope with their experience in prison, but also to give them the support they need to facilitate successful reentry into society, positively impacting these returning citizens, their families, and the greater community.

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