Cats and criminals.
It’s not the most likely successful combination, but a local program that will soon include participation by a Washougal animal shelter has turned this pairing into a positive experience for both humans and felines.
As detailed in an article in today’s Post-Record, at Larch Corrections Center, the minimum security prison in Yacolt, a partnership between it and an organization called “Cuddly Catz” created a cat adoption program that allows offenders who have been pre-screened to help socialize cats that are dangerous or have personalities that create a situation where they are not ready for adoption.
The offender “handlers” care for the cats until they are ready to be adopted out into the community. Larch will soon be working with the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society.
This program, in addition to others including dog adoption and service dog training, is part of the Washington State Department of Correction’s Sustainability in Prisons Project, which aims to bring nature and science into prisons. The programs under this umbrella, according to the DOC, “benefit local communities, teach the offenders responsibility and provide an incentive to maintain positive behavior while incarcerated.”
It’s easy to see how. These criminals are in prison to re-pay a debt to society. Instead of simply waiting idly for their sentences to pass by, this program allows these men to make positive contributions to the lives of these animals, many of which have been treated poorly throughout their lives. And in doing so, there is a real chance that the felines might have positive impacts on the offenders’ lives as well.