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Enclave of Freedom - Starting a Community at Chino (CA) (From Therapeutic Communities in Corrections, P 57-64, 1980, Hans Toch, ed. - See NCJ-72429)

NCJ Number
D Briggs
Date Published
8 pages
The experiences of inmates involved as therapists in a prison therapeutic community are described in terms of role conflicts, behavioral changes in other inmates, and the beneficial effects on program participants and the prison administration.
After the 2-year operation of a transitional therapeutic community, the program was developed to a more advanced stage. A separate building and staff were assigned to a randomly selected and self-contained resident group of 35 to 50 inmates with 10 inmate volunteers from the therapeutic community to act as 'culture carriers' or catalysts in effecting behavioral changes. Modeled after Maxwell Jones' therapeutic community at Belmont, the 10 volunteers were given a large degree of freedom in developing competence as social therapists for the other inmates. Conflicts arose between the 10 peer therapists and the other inmates because the former had abandoned their delinquent status roles of the prisoner subculture. Because the 10 inmate therapists were simultaneously identified with authority and their peers they took the brunt of inmate hostility. Once the inmate therapists became secure in their roles, the hostility was encouraged as a means of therapy. The inmates had difficulty accepting acts of kindness from each other. Results indicated that participants who were in the program with the peer therapists fared better upon leaving prison than nonparticipating inmates and those who preceded them in the therapeutic community. Decentralization of the prison into smaller, autonomous units, resulting in greater inmate access to counselors and in new roles for correctional officers, were two permanent effects of the therapeutic community program, which ended after 5 years of operation. Two references are provided.


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