May 20, 2011
For More Information
Contact: Gretl Plessinger
WHO: Reporters are invited to the second anniversary and graduation of the D.A.W.G.S. in Prison program. This is the thirteenth graduating class of dogs trained by Gulf Correctional Institution Forestry Camp inmates. Reporters will be able to interview inmate trainers and the staff and volunteers who make this program a reality.
WHAT: More than 160 inmate volunteers have been assigned as caretakers, handlers, trainers and team leaders where they assume all responsibilities involved in maintaining a high standard of canine training, maintenance, and hygiene. Program surveys show that D.A.W.G.S. has helped inmates learn communication skills, self respect and patience. The skills inmates learn in this program help them foster better relationships with their families and with future employers. Because of his experience in D.A.W.G.S., one former inmate found employment with the Humane Society near his home in South Florida and another was hired by St. Joseph Bay Humane Society Shelter.
WHY: Currently one of every three inmates released from the Florida system returns to prison within three years. Through programs like D.A.W.G.S., the Department of Corrections is helping inmates develop social skills as well as job skills that will lead them to productive employment.
WHEN: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 9 a.m.
DEPARTMENT CONTACT: If you wish to attend the anniversary and graduation ceremony, please contact the Assistant Warden J. D. Sloan (850-639-1135).
The Following are quotes from correspondence received from former D.A.W.G.S. inmates:
“Until recently, I could have never put prison and success in the same sentence.”
“It does my heart good to know that D.A.W.G.S. isn’t failing as a re-entry program. Just as sure as God blesses this earth, DAWGS has changed my life.”
“I woke up during my first year of the D.A.W.G.S. program. My attitude changed. My routine changed. My health changed. My priorities changed. Everything changed in my life in order for me to be responsible enough to take care of one of God’s precious creations.”
“ . . . . gave me the wisdom to see what kinds of changes were needed in my life in order to be a productive citizen again after a total of 26 years behind bars.”