The Clallam Bay Corrections Center is trying something different. They are reconsidering the usefulness of solitary confinement. According to an article in the Seattle Times, “Being alone in your own head 23 hours a day in a 48-square-foot poured-concrete cell makes, inmates say, the mad madder and the bad even worse.” Clallam Bay is using a new approach to navigating the intervention of behavioral barriers, developing a program called the “Intensive Transition Program (ITP)” and the library is a contributing piece of this program.
Their Operations manual describes the program like this. “The Intensive Transition Program at Clallam Bay Corrections Center strives to break the cycle of personal dysfunction through supportive discipline, staged socialization, targeted integrated programming, and progressive development of self-control” (ITP Philosophy and Operations, p1).
So what exactly does this mean? Think of the ITP as a transition. When an inmate shows a desire to change they are considered for selection in the ITP program. Restrictions are slowly and carefully lifted and a small suite of privileges open up that have previously been denied. Participating in a library program can demonstrate their commitment to disciplining themselves and regulating their behavior.
Right now, the Washington State Library is partnering with the ITP to provide a weekly book discussion program. This consists of discussion around world issues. Participants are presently reading “Persepolis,” a story about a young woman experiencing a revolution. The book has inspired conversations around the critical issues presented. Some discussion includes, the role of politics in school, the ways that revolutions manifest, how seeking power disrupts equity, and the lens that children create for the world around them in the face of trauma. This book has elicited several interesting responses. One person said, “There are always people that are deprived of their rights. Revolutions are a way for people to speak up and seek change for the better. Revolutions are needed for continual change to occur.” Another tied the book in to his own life, and his own experience. “Teaching about a broad range of politics in schools is really important, I want to know that my daughter has a chance to learn about as many different perspectives as possible.”
This book discussion is in its early stages, and is seeking to create a meaningful environment that promotes prosocial behavior, critical analysis, and self-growth. In order for this important program to expand we need more titles which meet the needs of this group. If you feel like donating to this very worthy cause we have made it easy through the use of an Amazon wish list. Even if donating is not within your means take a look at the list. You will very likely be surprised at the wide range of books and materials that have been requested.
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