A faith-based program at the Fayette County Detention Center using pastoral experience, Correctional psychology, Wisdom traditions including AA, group dynamics and volunteers. The project coordinator has 17 years experience in correctional consulting and 40 years experience in pastoral counseling (overlapping :-)

Friday, July 01, 2005

What is working in our jail spiritual growth program for inmates?

Report to Current volunteers, FF8
CC. Potential volunteers for this program
(planning for an Orientation program for new volunteers in July)
From Paschal Baute
July 1, 2005.

I survey the inmates in the FF8 “Fierce Landscape” Spiritual Growth program at the Fayette County Detention Center about every other month to determine and verify what is working and not working for them. The question for them is What is Helping You Change?

Here is the summary, taking first and second together, then third and fourth and summarizing.
Bible study, Brotherhood, Being around positive thinkers, praying, Resource-like books, Group meetings, Outside volunteers who are dedicated, Working on my plan of acting, Seeing someone do what I want to do, Jesus and Self-study. Two most commonly rated high were Being around like-minded persons or fellowship, and Learning from the group. Every single person ranked these two aspects highly. (The largest facilitator challenge in our 2.5 year program has been to get them to meet on their own and take turns leading that group, which they are now doing for some months)

Next, #3 and 4, also ranked high were: Sharing stories, Learning to be thankful, Taking on responsibility, the one on one counseling, Bible study, Learning different topics, Learning from one another, Beginning to believe in myself, Learning from others failures, Feedback from others, Sharing, Guidance and Prayer, Encouragement from others, and a sense of responsibility to the group and myself. Overall, we can say what is helping is the Learning environment we have helped create, from study, Bible, group, feedback, and encouragment from one another.

Age range is from 23 to 48. The number of years in addictive behavior ranges from 8 to 25, and practically all have been in jail numerous times, average 6 to ten. These are repeat offenders with a history of recidivism, who scarcely realize what radical changes are necessary for them to quit the addictive cycle. Above all, we can say they need hope and encouragment, but must learn how to obtain and learn and receive that from themselves. They have extensive patterns of hiding from themselves and others. My work this past month has been on the importance of becoming more open, and risking emotionally with each others.

This past week, I gave them two copies for their self-monitoring of a list of 27 behaviors to rate themselves on each day, and to give themselves a grade. I will review this itemized behavior program next time there.

On the reverse, I asked how the program could be improved.
A celebration every several months of achievements of goals.
More tools for the program
Fuller schedule
Christian pen pal
More one on one help
More career oriented materials
Variety of volunteers.
More supervision and structure to the program
Inspirational videos
Mandatory quiet time
More stories from the bible
More study of the bible
Better screening process for admitting to FF8
Better addictive programs, like AA and NA
Reward participants in some way, e.g. snacks.
Nothing, It is working fine.

We are hoping to add new volunteers to the program soon. In order to have one lesson daily, we need three more.