More and more prisons have witnessed the success of Prisoner-Dog Training Programs (PDPs) in the last few years. PDPs entail a prisoner training an animal (usually a dog) to be a service animal for the disabled or a well-behaved household pet. PDPs at state and federal prisons have turned out to be a win-win-win. The animals involved in the program are typically those at risk of being euthanized, giving those animals a second chance at life; the community benefits because people adopt well-behaved and trained animals; and the prisoner-trainers learn what it means to contribute to society in a material way, to develop emotional connections, and to care for others. At first glance, these programs seem perfect—which begs the question: Why are they not in every prison?
This article examines PDPs and the success of those programs in the case studies that have been conducted. The Article suggests that in order for more successful PDPs to be launched, more data needs to be collected. In analyzing PDPs, this Article looks at the history of criminal punishment through the lens of rehabilitation versus retribution, then proceeds to an overview of PDPs and their promising initial data. Finally, this Article discusses the need for further examination of PDPs and their effectiveness, as well as possible mechanisms that could be used to expand their uses. Ultimately, this Article encourages the Department of Justice and Congress to lend greater support to PDPs in federal and state prisons.
Paul J. Larkin, Jr.,
Death Row Dogs, Hard Time Prisoners, and Creative Rehabilitation Strategies: Prisoner-Dog Training Programs,
Cath. U. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.edu/lawreview/vol66/iss3/7