Georgia's Governor wants to give state prison inmates job training while they are behind bars to try to cut down the number of inmates who return to prison time and again.
One pilot training program at Pulaski State Prison, where female inmates' rehabilitation has shown great success, by rehabilitating abused horses.
Robin Farrell works with Pegasus, lunging the horse, teaching it trust and interaction with people.
An abused horses seized by the Department of Agriculture, and turned over to the inmates in the equine program at Pulaski State Prison to save.
Farrell said "They come in here abused, misunderstood, neglected. And in so many ways the women her, myself included, can relate to that."
Farrell is serving time for theft by taking, and enrolled in the prison equine program because of a love of horses. She is now earning hours from Middle Georgia Technical College in their Vet Tech Animal Health Care program.
Farrell said "This has helped me more than any groups. Anything that I've ever done. Inside and out."
The inmates work under the watch of a technical college instructor, who insists they are doing real college study, while also performing life saving therapy for the horses.
Middle Georgia Technical College Vocational Instructor Jody Cravey said "The work is what we have to maintain. We have to do that 7 days a week. Twice a day. But the curriculum is something else they are required to do."
It's the kind of job training program Governor Nathan Deal is pushing in prisons, so inmates will be qualified for work when they are released.
Middle Georgia Technical College Director of Correctional Programs Thomas Wellman said " If they don't get a job, what are they going to do? They are going to do crime. So by getting them a job, that's the secret to reducing recidivism, and vocational training works."
Georgia Department of Agriculture Field Supervisor Corey Cravey said "It's basically horses helping inmates, and inmates helping horses. It works good for us. We get these horses in. We rehabilitate them, and then we auction them off. It's just a great program for the state all around. It's a win-win."
And prison officials say obviously the equine program is working. They have had only one inmate from the program return to prison after her release, compared to a nearly 30 percent general recidivism rate without the vo tech job training.
Robin Farrell said it's changed her life.
Farrell said "Not too many people say they are glad to be in prison, but I'm glad for this opportunity. Very much so."
Farrell says she plans to use her vo tech training to work with horses after her release, and says thanks to Pegasus and the other horses she will not be returning to prison again.
Pulaski State Prison and Lee Arrendale State Prison in Alto both have equine horse vo tech training programs, to work with seized horses. The Governor wants to use this program as a model, to set up more vocational technical college job training programs at all state prisons.
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