A sheriff in Nebraska has been using two cats in a county jail to help prisoners stay calm. Some prisoners had been volunteering at a local animal shelter, so the sheriff decided to bring the cats to the jail.
“I asked myself, I wonder how those would work out in the jail, as far as helping the guys pass time and make them feel a lot more at ease and less destructive to our facility. So, we adopted a couple of them and brought them back here,” said the sheriff. (Source: UPI.com ) He referenced studies showing that taking care of an animal can reduce inmate stress and give them something to do.
One imagines prisoners in confined spaces might be angry, sad, and distressed–all states that can cause them to act out with aggression, or perhaps even engage in acts of violence or self-harming.
One of the inmates said the cats, “bring out the soft part in you, just like your kids do.” (Source: Yahoo)
A similar strategy with dogs has been employed in courtrooms to help crime victims remain calm when their cases are being tried, particularly when they are on the witness stand. In Florida inmates were helping take care of over 700 animals as part of their work service.
Prisoners in California have been employed in taking care of frogs to help repopulate their diminished species.