When you hear the word prison, what do you think of? Most of us may picture may something like this…
The daily life of an inmate in prison seems to be extremely routine. We picture a person who is incarcerated waking up, eating, playing cards, showering, and possibly spending time in the yard working out. Recently while watching the show “Lockup” on MSNBC a correctional institution in Louisiana came to my attention. Elayn Hunt Correctional does not, in anyway, fit this stereotype. This facility is a maximum security prison housing maximum, medium and minimum security males. Elayn Hunt has enough space for 1,510 males and is able to hold nearly 500 more who are there for intake. In addition, there are 170 beds reserved for participants in their IMPACT program. The IMPACT program is one of the many programs this facility has that sets it apart from many other prisons across the United States.
The IMPACT program was created at Elayn Hunt Correctional in 1987 and has been operating ever since. it resembles military style training and the inmates are referred to as “students” Although some people believe that the program is not effective there are many supporters who believe it is. The male inmates that are involved in the IMPACT program are usually those with substance abuse problems. This factor plays a role in the two step program the program has in place. The two step program includes an intensive incarceration period followed by community service, therapeutic treatment with focus on self-discipline and substance control rehabilitation. Their community service greatly benefits the local college Louisiana State University. The inmates will help out on the campus by doing landscaping work, flower bed maintenance, and contributing to cleaning up after sporting events. This program not only benefits the inmates participating but also saves the state a lot of money. For every one hundred inmates the state of Louisiana saves $1,068,000.00 because the work the inmates do is usually paid work.
The IMPACT program is not the only thing unique about Elayn Hunt Correctional. They have a traveling sports program for the inmates to participate in. For an inmate to be eligible they need to be either a minimum or medium security inmate. Currently about 800 of the inmates at Elayn Hunt participate in at least one of their organized sports. The sports offered are football, volleyball, softball, boxing, and basketball and benefit the offenders in many ways. The male participants as well as the staff believe that this program teaches the inmates a lot as well as keeps them busy while serving out their sentences. The teams they are a part of give them a sense of family, keep them out of trouble, relieves stress, requires engagement in teamwork, teaches them athletic discipline and sportsmanship, and also is a sense of organization for them.
The football and boxing programs are the most sought after in this institution. The football team practices at the correctional center and also has trained some inmates to be referees. The Buccaneers (their team name) travel to other prisons in the state to compete in single games or tournaments and have won many in the past. The boxing team also travels and the inmates on the boxing team take it extremely seriously. One inmate, Clifford, “The Black Rhino” Etinne, who was serving a 10 year sentence, was a member of the boxing team at Elayn Hunt and upon release actually became a professional boxer. His hard work in this program paid off and he even faced off against Mike Tyson during his boxing career.
Some people may be skeptical about inmates participating in these types of programs. The arguments range from safety to the offenders not really being punished. For the years that Elayn Hunt Correctional has had this program there have not been many incidents of violence. The inmates see it as a privilege and don’t want to be suspended from the team. If there is a violent event the person will be suspended for a year from the sport he is playing. None of these men want that to happen. As for the punishment perspective everyone is going to have their own opinion about that. Personally I think it is a beneficial program to have because of the educational aspect it has for these men.