LONDON, Ohio – Madison Correctional Institution is a medium security prison that recently established a program called “Foster–cat program” in which some of the inmates care for kittens and prepare them for adoption. It is intended to benefit both the inmates and the cats.
So far there are 10 prisoners participating in the program but there are at least 15 more on a waiting list. According to the prison’s unit manager, Nicholas Emmons, men who want to participate are carefully examined to see if they are suitable for the program.
Madison Correctional Institution joined together with the Humane Society of Madison County, which provides the cats chosen to be a part of the program. There are usually kittens rejected by their mothers or were abandoned by their mother, but they also send overweight cats that need exercise or older cats that require socialization.
For the prisoners, the program provides rehabilitation. According to Emmons, “everyone wants to focus on the correction part, and punishment is necessary. But this is the rehabilitation part, and that’s important too”.
Caring for the cats provides them company and allows them to give something back. One of the participants of the program says: “It’s like being a dad. They come in here as bottle babies and their whole life depends on you. It’s nice to be able to show kindness. There’s not a lot of that in here”.
But it’s not only the prisoners who are benefitted from the program. The cats benefit as well. This is a win–win situation. The inmates take notes regarding the cats’ personalities, likes and dislikes, preferred diet, level of activity, etc. These notes constitute journals that future adopters will get to know their cat a little bit more.
They also take the cats for walks in the recreation yard using harnesses and they accommodate their cells for them. For example, they wrap towels around the bars on the windows and the bunk beds to create improvised scratching posts, or they put some cardboard gates to keep the cats inside when the cell doors are open during the day. Their cells are converted into playgrounds with the litter boxes tucked under the sink and food and water bowls accessible for them.
Another part of the program is the possibility for the men to get an animal trainer apprenticeship certificate if they fulfill 4,000 hours of cat care.
If the program turns out to be as successful as they are planning, they may implement it in other prisons. What are your thoughts in this matter? Share them with us!