The Stanley Correctional Institution strives to maximize rehabilitation and self-improvement opportunities for inmates, while maintaining a safe and secure facility. One self-improvement …
The Stanley Correctional Institution strives to maximize rehabilitation and self-improvement opportunities for inmates, while maintaining a safe and secure facility. One self-improvement program that was highlighted at the 20th Anniversary was the Paws Program, where inmates from the Stanley Correctional Institution work together with Can Do Canines to train service dogs. The Stanley Correctional Institution was the first Wisconsin Prison to partner with Can Do Canines in New Hope, Minnesota. Can Do Canines is a non-profit organization that provides assistance dogs to individuals with disabilities. Presently, Can Do Canines partners with three prisons in the State of Wisconsin; Stanley Correctional Institution, Jackson Correctional Facility, and Chippewa Valley Correctional, where new litters of puppies are weaned. Partnering with the prisons allows Can Do Canines to serve more people in the community thus, expanding their program. Can Do Canines provides anything needed including, the dogs, dog food, supplies, and pays for vet care that the dogs may need. Any minimal cost or extra needs are provided for with fundraising. There is no cost to the institution or from the state budget so, it’s a serviceable program and not a financial burden. It costs upwards of $40,000 to train one service dog and Can-Do Canines provides them to clients free of charge.
Lori Patrouille, Warden’s secretary, and Brandon Drost, Corrections Program Supervisor, manage the program together. The Paws Program began at the Stanley Correctional Institution in 2016 and is designed to train service dogs for people with diverse medical conditions. Currently, there are 16 dogs at the facility, with 38 inmates participating in the program. Each dog is given 24-hour attention by two inmates or “handlers” who work to prepare their dog for graduation. The additional inmates assist in any area they are needed. Training the dogs teaches the inmates responsibility, patience, communication and teamwork- all qualities needed to be a good handler. The dogs, who are mostly Labrador or Labrador-Golden Retriever mixes at the SCI, are trained for five main specialties-hearing loss, mobility challenges, autism assist, Type 1 diabetes, and seizure assist. This year, the specialties include skilled home companions and facility dogs.
In addition to the Paws Program, the Stanley Correctional Institution has partnered with a vocational dog training program through the Chippewa Valley Technical College. Inmates in the Paws Program can join the vocational program where they can earn a vocational certificate stating they are a dog trainer. Some inmates have used the knowledge they gained to become dog trainers upon release. Dyan Larson, Can Do Canines Prison Program Instructor, is also the vocational dog trainer. She visits the inmates weekly to show the inmates how to teach the puppies basic obedience and early assistance dog skills.
As the prison program is only one part of the dog’s training, it is a steppingstone in the dog’s career. The dogs are at the prison program for approximately six months and during their time there, they get focus training. Prison foster volunteers bring the dogs out of the prison for two weekends a month to familiarize the dogs with things that aren’t found in prisons and to expose them to as many new experiences as possible. When the dogs leave the prison, they continue their training and trainers determine the dog’s specialty and new dogs are brought into the prison.
Close to 200 dogs have gone through the Paws program at the Stanley Correctional Institution. Lori Patrioulle explains, “It’s a beneficial program. It benefits the inmates and helps them learn a lot of different skills. It’s a good program overall. It’s a win-win for both of us. Our climate gets a little better because we have the dogs in the unit. It’s a good incentive. Patrioulle adds, “It’s good for the organization too. They can train service dogs much faster having these prison programs because they were relying only on people on the outside to do the training that we do here. It wouldn’t be nearly as good. The inmates have much more time to train a dog effectively than a person on the outside. It’s a bonus for the organization because they can get that many more dogs trained and then to clients.”
Check back next week for our next series on the Stanley Correctional Institution: Bureau of Correctional Enterprises Custom Signs.