USA: Puppies Behind Bars by Radhika Chalasani

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SIDNEY AND 18-MONTH-OLD LABRADOR TONI --  Sidney has been in prison for 10 years. SIDNEY: "I am in prison for thinking crime was the only alternative for success, not exploring my options, and keeping a tight grip on a destructive, non-productive life-style. That is WHY I'm in prison but the court system termed it robbery in the first degree. I was sentenced to 15 years.  I wanted something challenging as well as rewarding in my life and wanted to start a process of giving back to people in need. I've learned that I'm not as impatient as i thought I was. I've gained an option to take this skill [dog training] and further my education and to continue to pursue what has given me a sense of purpose." ..The Puppies Behind Bars (PPB) Program works with prison inmates in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to train service dogs, including ones who help injured soldiers. The puppies arrive at 8 weeks-old and remain at the prisons, mostly working with one inmate, for 20 months. Fishkill Correctional Facility is a medium security prison in New York with 22 men in the puppy program. The emotional element of caring for the puppies breaks down the hard façade that most prisoners create for themselves to survive prison life.  Prisoners learn responsibility and pride in helping others. The program often gives them a new outlook on their crimes, their time in prison, and goals when they are released. ..