Photo by Margarita Kosior via Unsplash

Dogs have been in the Jefferson City Correctional Center (JCCC) in Jefferson City Missouri since before I arrived here in 2011. The first housing unit I was assigned to was Housing Unit Four, proud home of the JCCC dog program!

I have had a firsthand view of the order of operations, as it pertains to these animals. When the dogs are brought into the institution, the priority of the staff and administration is to get the dogs adoption (parole) ready, as soon as possible.

A mental assessment is done on the animals and then a personal trainer is assigned to the dog. The personal trainer is already familiar with the dogs’ individual needs and mental assessment. If that isn’t enough, a representative from the animal shelter enters the institution weekly, to check up on the animals’ progress and give further guidance and assistance to those who are preparing the dogs for adoption.

Rehabilitation is mandated for the animals, as they are put through rigorous training in order to make them “adoption ready.” Each and every issue the animal has, whether it be health or social, is assessed and addressed. The dogs are essentially given one option, and that is to change or return to the shelter to be euthanized.

It’s truly unfortunate that the same time and energy isn’t put into rehabilitation of the men and women who are confined with the Missouri Department of Corrections. Recidivism is an ever present reality, because there is no requirement to change. There is no mandate to address the issues that birthed the criminal inclination or actions.

There are no staff members on stand-by checking upon your parole readiness. No one. In fact, one would almost be correct in saying that everyone who works at this institution stands in direct opposition to our freedom and our dreams. The staff are more concerned with the rehabilitation of dogs than they are of the men and women prisoners throughout the U.S.’s ever-expanding prison system, simply warehoused, while true animals are being prepared for release.

If those who are in positions of power and influence within the Missouri Department of Corrections truly believed that locking up the physical would change the mental, why would they continue to invest so much time, energy and money into the rehabilitation of actual animals, more than they do in the rehabilitation of the men and women incarcerated in Missouri?

 
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. The Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned. The work is lightly edited but has not been otherwise fact-checked.

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Patricia Elane Trimble

Patricia Elane Trimble is a transgender feminist writer, activist, and author incarcerated at the Southeastern Correctional Center in Charleston, Missouri. She is currently serving a life sentence for murder. She is a contributing writer for the Prison Journalism Project and is an advocate for the fair and just treatment of all LGBTQ prisoners. Her book “Finding Purpose: One Transgender Woman's Journey" is available on Amazon.