Program to Prepare Lifers and Long-term Prisoners to Facilitate a High-Impact Program to Young Prisoners

02/09/19 0

The POWER SOURCE Training: A Program to Prepare Lifers and Long-termers to Facilitate a High Impact Program for Young Prisoners (18-24): This program, being delivered in two CA prisons, is proving to be a great success. A high percentage of the young men reported being able to handle their anger in a more positive way, take more responsibility for their actions, have greater insight into their choices, and live with greater hope. All participants reported that they would recommend the program to others. Survey feedback from the young adult prisoners in the first round of the program facilitated by lifers and long-termers included:

…. The impact has been great.  There’s so much I’ve learned & grown to understand. …. It helped me to see things in a positive way even when it was a bad day. …. I thought I was stuck in my ways & that’s not the case. We just needed a lil guidance to return to our true selves. …. It gave me insight into my life – now I look at everything differently. …. The Power Source program has given me the “tools” to not only better my life but if my son, nieces, or nephews have any questions about problems as they get older I will be able to answer them truthfully just like I wish someone in my family would have done     for me.

…. If it can help an anti-social pessimist like myself then it can help anyone.

When we asked the young men enrolled in the Power Source Program what the pros and cons of having older prisoners facilitate, their responses included: We have positive prisoners to teach us right from wrong;  They walked the same walk I did growing up, with gangs, crime, drugs & money;  They know firsthand what it is like to be in my shoes;  When I feel like I’m going to screw up I know I can talk to them;  He would encourage me to come to group whenever he saw me in the yard.

Clearly, when given the opportunity to facilitate this structured social and emotional learning program for young prisoners, the lifers and long-termers are taking it to heart and impressively rising to the occasion. What an invaluable resource right there in the prison! Hopefully when the findings of this program are published, they will inspire many other prison systems to offer the same training.

As we had anticipated and hoped for, prisoner-facilitators also greatly benefitted from the groups. One wrote, “facilitating allows for the creation of purpose, meaning, and restora-tion.” In the surveys distributed at the end of the program other prisoner-facilitators wrote:

  • It is rewarding but also a great responsibility. I’ve learned more about myself and have been conscious of my thoughts, words, and actions to make sure I model the behavior I want the youngsters to adopt.
  • It’s giving me a sense of giving back. I feel like I’m actually living out my “living amends”.
  • A highlight was to see the “light-bulb” go on in a young person’s mind as a direct result of hearing a concept or idea from the curriculum.
  • It has reinforced my belief that groups, if well led and consistently held have the power to change lives.