Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) Jamestown is currently trialling the use of Pet Therapy within the prison.

Prison Therapists around the world use animals to encourage a positive way of life, as well as to improve aspects such as low self-esteem, forming better relationships with others, communication deficiencies, health and wellbeing.

Prison Manager, Heidi Murray, said:

“We have been lucky enough to have a member of the team, whose dog Pip, has been coming in to the prison over the last few months. Pip is a dog who loves to be patted and fussed over, so she was a natural for coming in to the prison and spending time with the men in our care. The impact is already proving to be a positive one, as she has provoked conversation from prisoners who find communication difficult, and her calm and placid temperament means that some who are not used to dealing with dogs, have become more confident when approaching her.”

Studies have shown that animal assisted therapy programmes within the prison system have a major effect on prisoner rehabilitation. They foster life-enhancing skills such as coping skills, community rehabilitation, responsibility, and enhance the quality of prison life. Focusing solely on punishment will not work for the rehabilitation of offenders. The approach to rehabilitation has to have many strands for it to be effective, and pet therapy is one of the methods being adopted by HMP Jamestown.

HMP Jamestown has now, working alongside Senior Veterinary Officer Joe Hollins, introduced a kitten to the prison. Named Rainbow, the kitten will remain in HMP Jamestown for a four-month probationary period in the first instance. This will allow HMP Jamestown to ascertain whether they are able to deal with the demands of a young kitten, that no-one has allergies in relation to Rainbow, and that they are able to maintain the animal’s health and welfare.

Heidi added:

“Rainbow is already making a big difference to the prison and appears to be very comfortable in his surroundings. His health and welfare is being taken care of by some of our longer-term residents, and hopefully this will provide them with all the benefits that come with animal assisted therapy programmes.

“Added to the benefits for the prisoners, Rainbow was a kitten who could very well have faced the unthinkable if a new home had not been found for him. So hopefully this will be a successful situation all round.”

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SHG
15 May 2019

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