Canine CellMates Aftercare
The Canine CellMates program was originally designed to save shelter dogs, allow for positive change in the
incarcerated men who train them, get them adopted into amazing homes, and move on to save more dogs,
and help more men to change. We believed that our involvement would end at the point of the adoption for the
dogs, and release for the inmates. Little did we know that as we came to know these men, we would not only
love them, we would have an understanding of the difficulties that they face upon release. We have watched
them change while in this program, and hope and believe that this will inspire them to live a different life once
they graduate from our program and are released from jail. To ensure the long-term success of the program,
we realized we needed to expand our program to include an aftercare component.
When we have inmate handlers that give 110% while they are in the program and demonstrate significant positive personal growth, we believe they should be a part of our program after their release. We tell them that we are their family for as long as they want us to be – to help, support, listen and be proud of them.
The obstacles that these guys face as they exit jail are almost insurmountable. In today's economy, getting a job can be a challenge - if you have a felony conviction, it can seem impossible. Without the basic necessities of housing and employment, the resolve to hang on to positive personal change and a desire for a different future, will be abandoned for sheer survival.
We are committed to helping the graduate handlers of our program based on their individual needs. For some, we assist with placement and financial support with appropriate housing - either transitional housing or a sober living environment. Most of them have lost personal possessions while they were incarcerated, so, we provide basic toiletry items and clothing. We have begun, and hope to continue to expand, a database of businesses that are open to hiring the graduates of our program. We would like to provide a cell phone to those who are in need. A cell phone for them is crucial in their search for employment. We provide Marta cards so they can go on job searches and grocery store gift cards so they have nutritious food to eat.
The Aftercare program requires a great deal of resources and this is where we really need the support of our community.
We need support in the following ways:
The benefits of this program extend to the dogs, the inmate’s rehabilitation and our community at large.
Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide!
LEON ON TONY
(Tony’s Handler in CCM Program):
“I never knew much about dogs or
understood dogs until I joined the
program. It has changed my life
and made me a better person.
WHY A JAIL DOG PROGRAM?
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This program changes lives, both canine and human, by offering a second chance at life.
Both groups have faced isolation and rejection by the outside world, but when they come
together, they often give each other a new found sense of hope. They become the rescuer
for one another.
The benefits to the inmate handlers are many, including:
There has been a dramatic decrease in incidence of violent outbursts in prison and jail facilities where jail dog programs operate, sometimes as much as 50%. Repeated habitual crime rates have also shown drastic improvements. The Atlanta metro area has had one of the highest recidivism rates in the country, around 70% within the first two years after release. With programs like this in place, it is likely that the Atlanta metro area will begin to show a reduction in this recidivism rate.
Canine CellMates is more than just a program where inmates train dogs. Canine CellMates is a complete program which includes bringing in key speakers to teach, educate and inspire inmates to continue down a productive path both inside the jail and outside when they are released. The speakers/teachers donate their time, expertise and wisdom to help inmates with a successful transition back into society and new life. These speakers are an integral part of Canine Cellmates and we welcome speakers from all aspects to contribute their stories and advice.