Thursday, March 09, 2017

Federal program in Ariz. helps rehabilitate inmates by having them train wild horses for adoption

Inmate Rick Kline works in the program.
(Cronkite News photo by Blake Hemmel)
A federally funded program in Arizona allows inmates and wild horses to get a second chance, Shania Alba, of Cronkite News, reports for a story that appears on the Daily Yonder. Inmates at the Arizona State Prison in Florence, about 50 miles southeast of Phoenix, are caring for and training wild horses to prepare them for adoption in the hopes of reducing the wild horse population and prevent overgrazing. The program is funded and run by the Bureau of Land Management and annually provides "about 120 wild horses and burros for adoption."

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"First, the animals need to be domesticated after they’re transferred from a holding facility. Inmates train and care for the horses and burros for three or four months at the prison," Alba writes. "Inmate 'handlers' start 'rehabilitating' horses and burros every morning before the sun rises, working until the early afternoon over several weeks to get the animals used to people. The interaction with the animals is a series of steps, moving from teaching basic commands such as getting the horse to stand still during grooming to placing saddles and harnesses on them, then allowing people to ride them."

The program has not only helped to rehabilitate wild horses, but prisoners as well, Alba writes. Randy Helm, a BLM-appointed supervisor, "said recidivism is low, with only two prisoners in the program having returned to the Florence facility over five years."

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