This is such a natural fit in life. Petting a dog is proven to have good medical side effects. But Canine Cellmates is more than that.
Susan Jacobs-Meadows is the executive director and a good friend of mine. I was pleased when she asked me to come speak to her guys in the program, and I was excited to see the men with their dogs!
I had no idea what to expect, even though I go visit my son in prison. Jail is different. As I entered the facility and walked down the long hall with windows on either side I quickly realized that I was looking in to the living quarters of the inmates. A poorly lit room of concrete with metal bunk beds. Guys were in various places, lying on their bunk, looking and waving at me or just roaming around. It was like watching through a zoo window, except there was nothing ‘natural’ about the habitat.
It was very cold in the jail. Notice how the guys have coats and thermals on under their uniform. These layers are necessary, despite it being over 80 degrees outside. I guess it’s to keep the germs down.
When I met the guys in the program I felt the same feeling that I get when I meet families of inmates. I feel a strong sense of purpose. They are eager to share their story, and are searching for hope. Jail is worse because these guys are usually awaiting trial, some for years. Not even guilty yet, just not able to bond out; another obstacle that the criminal justice system places on the less “better off.”
The success of Canine Cellmates is so obvious. I attended her graduation and was so moved by what the men said about their experience of finding love with a dog that was needing love and that teaching the dog to overcome its fears, taught them the same thing. Seeing these men have a glimmer of hope from loving these animals reminded me how hard it is to reform someone when they have no love in their lives. Even when the love is coming from a bond with a rescue dog, love is necessary in peace and in reform.
The National Incarceration Association might have begun because of a mother’s love, but it has now grown into an organization that will fight to help men and women who are locked up get programs and treatment so they can come home, and stay home. We all must remember that these
prisoners people need love and affection in order to live their lives.
If you would like to see more reform, less crime, and progress we need to pull together every day! Donate or volunteer for the NIA and make a change in your community!
Momma Kate is here to stay.