Small programs like this can have big impacts on the people (and animals, in this case) involved. Sadly this is the kind of thing any cost-cutting, tough-on-crime government would be quick to cut in funding.
“When you’re doing prison time, you get set in certain ways and forget what it’s like to have everyday interactions and be compassionate,” Contreras said in an interview with The Columbian. “It’s a little different when you have an animal depending on you to survive. Animals bring out the best in people.”
Clementine, a gorgeous medium-haired kitty with coloring that speaks of the Siamese blood in her heritage, lives with Richard Amaro and William Lozano. She was so shy that program volunteers had been unable to place her with a family outside the prison, so they hoped that a foster home with the inmates could help.
And apparently it has. Not only has Clementine gradually been getting more comfortable and sociable, but so has her caretaker.
“He’s had 100 percent more interaction with staff than he did before,” said Larch counselor Monique Camacho. “Lozano was so quiet, he wouldn’t even look at the staff, let alone talk to them. Now, he’s forced to interact with us and other inmates.”