Reader Opinion — Prison’s Redemption Project could pay off for prisoners, and the rest of us

By faye Smith

Reader Opinion

I am a student at The Evergreen State College. I have been doing my internship at Stafford Creek Corrections Center. I believe the community as a whole will benefit from knowing about this project. It is called the Redemption Project and it was created by staff and offenders together at Stafford Creek Corrections Center.

“The Redemption Project is a program that is geared toward eliminating the negative culture in prison. It all begins with self awareness and self improvement. Every aspect of Redemption is self sustaining. This is an added bonus being that it reaches all of the objectives that the Department of Corrections is seeking without any cost to the taxpayer.”

It was created out of a desire to create a safer environment both within the prison system and in our communities. The objective is:

1. Reduce violence within the prison environment.

2. Create an atmosphere of respect and responsibility.

3. Encourage and teach how to establish stronger and more positive ties with

one’s family.

4. Instill the attitude of giving back to the community, rather than simply

doing time.

5. Establish behavioral patterns in the men housed in prison that will reduce

their likelihood of recidivism upon release.

The mission statement is: To repay society for the negative acts that have been committed against it by helping to prevent others from repeating similar acts.

The project is still undergoing many changes and improvements. It is truly a work in progress. I have been attending meetings with the offenders and staff of the Department of Corrections. The offenders in these meetings have been through the self awareness class and have graduated from that part of the project. They are now part of several different branches of the Redemption Project and have made amazing progress in their own personal growth.

New classes are being formed at the prison and they are filling up as fast as the staff can start them. It is all completely volunteer on the offenders part. They start out with self awareness being the main focus and do many exercises to help them find new ways to change the way they deal with situations, not only with other inmates but also with DOC staff and family members. The men know what is at risk and they take it very seriously.

The main reason for this letter is to let the general public know that there are good things going on inside those chain link fences, not just the type of things we all see on the “lockup” type shows on television. I am not saying those type of things don’t happen. I just want people to know that there are also good things being done too. It is exciting to see their reaction when inmates know something they have worked hard on has been successful. The staff and inmates at Stafford Creek are making positive changes that are changing the culture of prison life on a day to day basis. They will have skills that will help them stay out once they do get out. The men help each other and are true to the project. The Redemption Project is great project and the people who created it are truly innovative in the work they are doing to make sure that the project changes to fit any and all situations that might benefit not only the inmates but also the community as a whole.

Faye Smith is a resident of Aberdeen.