According to Deputy Jason Williams, who oversees the program, the jail dogs change lives. He has observed inmates behavior improve thanks to the accountability and purpose the program provides.
Amanda Sutton, an inmate handler working with cats, says the program gives her something to look forward to every day and offers her a chance to show responsibility.
Not only does the program give inmates something constructive to do with their time, it teaches them the benefits of positive reinforcement. These are skills they often take back into their life after incarceration making them better employees and parents.
“One inmate told me being part of this program was the first time he’d ever known unconditional love,” says Deputy Shannon Volkodav.
The program isn’t taxpayer funded. The Society of Humane Friends of Georgia provides all financial support, selects the dogs, coordinates veterinary care, handles the adoption process and supports volunteer efforts by the trainers and others.
Since its inception, the program has rescued 285 dogs and 40 cats from certain death. And while the program isn’t currently tracking recidivism of inmates, the deputies in charge are confident these inmates are not returning to crime as readily. Many continue volunteering with the program after their release.
It’s not hard to see that everyone involved is receiving more than a second chance.