Tag Archive for therapy

eHow Covers Alternatives to Imprisonment for Women

Maggots in my Sweet Potatoes: Women Doing TimeThe issue of imprisoned women is the elephant in the room. A quick Google search reveals that it is a well-known problem, and one that is getting steadily worse. There’s even an article about alternatives to incarceration for women on the popular “how-to” website eHow.

The site includes simple directions on how to do a wide variety of things. From making a better paper airplane to instructions for electronics projects, there is a mass of instructional material there that has become a standard destination for web surfers. It is therefore interesting to see eHow’s approach to this delicate but important subject.

Kristine Paglio, an eHow contributing writer, sets the stage for her article on the subject with some quick background notes:

Women currently constitute the fastest-growing subset of offenders being incarcerated. In the United States, women make up 7 percent of the total prison population. Incarcerated women are usually convicted of non-violent or drug-related offenses, or as accessories to a crime. Due to the lack of their participation in violent crime, many women can be considered for alternatives to incarceration, as they do not pose a threat to society. Offering them alternatives to incarceration allows women to care for their children and acquire education and job skills, as well as participate in needed counseling or therapy.

Once more, we see the common thread that is turning up more and more frequently, an emphasis on reintegration with society rather than on meting out punishment. Several of our recent posts have touched on that very theme. The similarities continue when one looks at the specific approaches that address this issue. Paglio lists a number of them in her article:

These alternative programs include, but are not limited to: electronic monitoring (i.e., home confinement); parenting classes; educational programming (including G.E.D. acquisition); employability programs (which impart skills like cooking and data entry); abuse and victimization therapy (which teach offenders to break the cycle of relationship violence); supervised living (e.g., halfway houses); and day supervision (in which the offender must submit to drug testing, perform community service and observe a mandated curfew).

Trauma and substance-abuse issues must also be considered, since almost 60-70%  of incarcerated women have been  abused or victimized, have a substance abuse problem, and have children. Skill- and confidence-building programs such as those suggested above provide additional tools for the inmate to use in her reentry into larger society.

What are your thoughts on these alternative programs? Do you think that a more socially utilitarian approach, where reintegration into the greater whole is the main objective, is the way to proceed? Let us know!

Source: “Alternatives to Incarceration for Women,” eHow, undated
Image copyright Susan Madden Lankford, from the book “Maggots in my Sweet Potatoes: Women Doing Time.” Used with permission.

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Seeing a Brighter World: Photography as Therapy

RTP LogoThe camera eye can often throw the day-to-day world into sharp relief, making us notice things that usually slip past our conscious recognition. Photography can also be a path to rehabilitation, a means of developing skills, expressing ourselves, and creating a path of engagement with the world for those who feel deprived of one.

This is the stance taken by Rehabilitation Through Photography (formerly the Volunteer Service Photographers until its name change in 1982), a group that has been teaching photography as a form of therapy since 1941. What started out as simply photographing troops leaving for war and sending their photos, along with a personal note, to their families, has become much more as time went on. RTP’s website tells of the early days in the World War II era:

Volunteer Service Photographers (VSP) programs and volunteers used portable dark rooms that were designed to enable veterans to develop and print photographs from their wheel chairs and their beds. Photography speeded the healing process, easing the pain of mind and body. Herrick recognized the therapeutic potential of photography and she helped to establish additional programs that taught photography skills. VSP’s efforts became so well known that requests came from hospitals and other instituions serving the chronically ill and the emotionally disturbed.

This stance would dictate the shape of the program for the next 70 years. In the modern day, RTP engages with a large number of people at what most consider to be the fringes of society. At-risk youth is only one of the many groups that seem to be benefiting from RTP’s many efforts, as Picture Business Magazine reports:

RTP started and helps run 25 programs using photography as a unique form of therapy with 55 classes a week, 695 participants ages 8 to 80 with a total of 30,000 hours of instruction each year. Programs serve all facets of the community from the physically handicapped, developmentally disabled, at risk or economically challenged youth and nursing home residents. RTP provides photography instruction and programs to the physically and emotionally handicapped, the elderly, at-risk youth, the economically disadvantaged, the homeless and, the visually impaired.

In order to enact these programs, RTP needs equipment. If you find this to be a program worthy of support, it is currently engaged in its 2010 Summer Camera Drive. At the time of this writing, only 75 more cameras were needed by September 1, 2010, to help equip the current RTP programs. (Click on the Picture Business Magazine link for more details, below.)

What are your thoughts on the subject? Do you think that this kind of work can bring people back into a broader community? Can it provide a proper focus, allowing engagement with the world that had once seemed out of reach?

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Source: “Donate Your Cameras to Help RTP,” Picture Business Magazine, 08/04/10
Image: Rehabilitation Through Photography Logo, copyright retained, used under Fair Use: Reporting.
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