A Tale Of Felines And Felons

by Elisa Black-Taylor

This is a tale of felines and felons. It’s the new brainchild of the Larch Correctional Facility in Tacoma, Washington where shelter cats are being paired with prison inmates.

The Cuddly Catz program, as it’s called, gives inmates of the Larch Correctional Facility a chance to reconnect with a female otherwise slated for euthanasia. The creators of the program say it gives a prisoner a sense of responsibility that hopefully he’ll take back to society when released.

Having a cat in a prison cell is also a means to keep the inmate in line. Do something wrong, and the cat is taken away. And of course, inmates are screened and have to have been on their best behavior before being allowed a shelter rescue in the first place.

So far there are only four inmates in the test program caring for the two cats. Princess Natalie is a long haired six year old black cat with a bad attitude. She was hell in fur at her previous home, destroying everything in sight and biting anyone who tried to stop her. Her caregiver, Joey Contreras, now has her tamed to the extent she can now be brushed and held for short periods.

Clementine is a Persian mix in the care of Richard Amaro. Amaro says the reason he agreed to be part of the test project is the inmates involved get out of a 40 man cell and into a dorm-like setting. It’s been more about having solitude than caring for a rescued shelter cat.

Prison counselor Monique Camancho has only positive things to say about the program. Another four cats are in the plans to be added to the prison population in the near future. She believes the cats not only give the inmates a sense of responsibility, the cats also teach the men to care about something other than themselves.

Please understand these aren’t hardened criminals caring for the felines. These are minimum security inmates, carefully screened for cat compatibility, who won’t be incarcerated for an extended period. There are many inmates in our prison system now due to the bad economy. Not having a job means a person can’t pay child support and will likely go to jail for this. The same holds true with fraudulent checks. Bounce a check in this country, and your freedom may be at stake.

It’s nice to know both the cats and the inmates stand to benefit from the Cuddly Catz program. Hopefully, with the success of this project, other minimum security prisons will follow and more cats can be saved from euthanasia.

Readers, what do you think of this program? I grew up in a town where a trustee serving a life sentence was given a dog as a companion for good behavior. So this concept isn’t new to me. If this idea can save cats and rehabilitate inmates at the same time, more power to it!

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

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A Tale Of Felines And Felons

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May 06, 2012
Same LOL
by: Michael I have just read this and realise that I have done the same story but probably less good. I usually read your articles through but not this time as I was pushed
for time.
I was very impressed by the program. I even published the two pictures, which was a bit naughty. But I have promoted the program and the site where the original story was.My title is similar too:

Saving Cat and Criminal

May 06, 2012
A tale of felines and felons
by: Rudolph.A.Furtado Saw the populsr prison rehabilitation programme in American jails concerning dogs and prisoners on “National Geographic”.These were absolutely hardened criminals who were given discarded problematic dogs to care
for and train.Nice to know that discarded cats have been introduced into a rehabilitation plan
for non-dangerous felons.Caring
for any pet, be it a cat , dog or a bird definitely has a attitude behavioural change in their human care-takers.

May 05, 2012
Cats & inmates part of win/win solution !!
by: Anonymous A great concept, inmates get rewarded
for good behavior & cats are pulled from shelter & early death. A win/win solution.
When inmates bond with a pet their life has meaning
they bond with a cat, learn responsibilty at same time they also love, loyalty & trust because most come from dysfunctional homes.
Cats get caretakers willing & able to give the best to these cats.
Many kudos to whomever came up with this idea.
a cat lover/rescuer/helper
Southeast Arizona USA)

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