The rationale behind the service is that when prisoners have issues hanging over their heads it makes them feel anxious, frustrated and therefore difficult to control. Also, undealt with issues on the outside often snowball and so on release that start behind the eight ball. All of this is highly counterproductive to efforts made by the Department of Corrections. By meeting with the volunteers, prisoners are able to discuss any issues, clear the air and move forward with their rehabilitation.
The strength of the service is the reputation of the Howard League and Community Law. Often prisoners are not inclined to listen to Corrections staff and prefer to obtain advice from an outside party. The volunteers are seen as trustworthy and impartial, allowing for the prisoners to freely discuss any issues. The prisoners are also aware that the volunteers are unpaid and therefore acting out of a sense of doing the right thing.
While the prisoners clearly benefit, the volunteers also gain a great deal. Going into the prisons and speaking with prisoners allows volunteers to open their eyes to elements of society they may otherwise not have seen. The life skills gained from interacting with prisoners creates well rounded graduates.
The PIS has recently been reviewed for the second time and once again the results are positive. These results of the survey are testament to the quality of volunteers and the strength of the service model. It is great to be able to quantify the value of the work done by a team of hard working volunteers. It is encouraging to see the volume of prisoners recommending the service to others and it is hoped that the service only continues to grown in strength and value.
Read the full 2015 evaluation here.