Prison mentorship helps rehabilitate inmates
The ultimate goal for prisons is to rehabilitate offenders so they can lead productive lives once they are released, and hopefully, never again end up behind bars.
It’s a process that needs to start while the prisoners are serving time. But some inmates often end up getting into trouble while incarcerated.
However, the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel is making progress toward breaking that cycle.
Located in Iberville Parish, Elayn Hunt has transformed from a place that was considered extremely dangerous, to a more amicable environment. And the change has happened in less than a year’s time.
How did this improvement come about?
Much of the praise goes toward a program that brings the more troubled prisoners together with model inmates who volunteer as mentors. They live together in dorms for 45 days, with the focus being on helping them get rehabilitated. Programs include helping prisoners manage their anger and substance abuse issues, along with improving their parenting skills.
Once the inmates complete the program, they are sent back to general population and continue to receive support through mentorship.
Perry Stagg, Elayn Hunt’s deputy warden, recently recognized 30 prisoners who finished the program and haven’t had any infractions since. According to a report from the Advocate, Stagg told the inmates that they chose to “find happiness and purpose,” and they “have transformed the atmosphere in prison.”
Inmates who worked at the reentry program at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola helped put this transition program together.
Wade Joseph Jr., 25, was one of the inmates who completed the program. He has spent four years in prison on an armed robbery conviction. Joseph, now a mentor, said the program “is only a glimpse of what the future might hold if I continue to make the right choices and decisions.”
This program has already shown inmates that good things can come from doing what’s right. If these inmates learn that lesson while they are incarcerated, there’s a chance they can apply that attitude when they are released.
Elayn Hunt is helping prisoners make progress, one step at a time. Other prisons should take notice.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Crystal Stevenson, John Guidroz, retired editor Jim Beam and retired staff writer Mike Jones.
Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel is making progress towards breaking the cycle of repeat offenses.