Monday, April 2, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
Monday, October 24, 2011
DRAPER, Utah — As part of an ongoing annual tradition, officers from the Utah State Prison delivered thousands of inmate-grown pumpkins to benefit Salt Lake Valley children.
Officers made their final stops Oct. 24, at Jordan School District’s Kauri Sue Hamilton School for children with multiple disabilities, and Oct. 26, at a school for children with special needs at Canyons School District.
A group of 28 inmates in the prison’s greenhouse program traditionally grow about 3,000 pumpkins between June and October. They pick the pumpkins one-by-one from the patch and bleach them to protect some of the children who are more susceptible to germs. They rinse and dry each pumpkin before hoarding the gourds into a trailer so officers can deliver them to various locations including a Boys & Girls Club, Camp Kostopulos, Shriner’s Hospital and Primary Children’s Medical Center.
The inmates dedicate two-thirds of their garden space to grow pumpkins for the children. One
offender noted that his fellow inmates take pride in the project, and he added that it notably brings together a group of individuals who are serving time for crimes against society and allows them to give back by doing something for the betterment of the community. The offenders are confined to the prison facilities and do not travel to the schools for the donations. Instead, they see the gratitude returned via a string of thank you cards. Several notes from last year’s donations currently adorn the greenhouse program offices. Offenders wished to thank news outlets for covering the event in years’ past, as it allows them to see the kids’ joy.
Prison inmates have also begun growing poinsettias in the greenhouse program, which will decorate various State offices during the upcoming holiday season.
Links to news media coverage:
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
“You have this heightened awareness of the small things – you’re accountable for all you do,” Workman said, adding that the 24/7 scrutiny and community life in Con-Quest varied drastically from life in the federal prison system. “I looked at [Con-Quest] an opportunity to grow. In a dormitory setting, you can’t just sit there and ‘do your own time.’ I finally had to dig down deep and deal with my issues. It’s unique. It’s about bettering you.”
As is the case with Workman, drug dependencies are often the catalyst behind various crimes that land offenders in prison – such as burglaries, thefts and forgeries. Among the nearly 7,000 inmates in Utah’s prison system, the vast majority – as much as 80 percent of the population – have struggled with some significant substance-abuse trial. Only about 4 percent are imprisoned due to drug possession crimes.
The Con-Quest program began as a therapeutic community for males housed at the prison’s Draper site in 2000 and originally housed 144 residents. In March 2005, the program moved to the Promontory facility and expanded to 400 residents. The Department of Corrections also runs two other therapeutic communities targeting substance abuse issues – HOPE for male inmates at Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison, and Ex-Cell for female inmates in Draper. Ex-Cell graduated 22 women on June 29, and a not-yet-determined number of men will complete HOPE on July 21. Each program takes an offender an average of 18 months of focused effort to complete.
As for Workman – he finished in just over a year. With one year left before he paroles from prison, Workman said he has more confidence. He likes himself better. He has more fun. And he’s anxious to show his mother and grandmother by his actions that he stands for something positive.
Asked if he had a message for others struggling with substance abuse and self-confidence, Workman said: “Everybody has stuff. It’s what you make of it that counts. But you can do it. Change is possible.”
Monday, June 13, 2011
Keynote speaker Frank Layden - a former Utah Jazz coach, general manager and team president as well as former schoolteacher - encouraged the graduates to continue their hard work."Graduation - that means it's complete. It's over. It's done, right? No, it's quite the opposite. Graduation is like the starter's gun firing to start a race. You are in the first day of the rest of your lives," Layden said. "You have now elevated yourselves above many other people with more opportunities than you've been given. You've moved up the pyramid...How smart you are will depend on what you do now after receiving that diploma. That you are going to elevate yourself, that you will not stop there, that you are going to take off in the race and make yourself even better. You are going to reach out to the stars."
Layden compared the graduates' diplomas to the Utah Jazz, saying the basketball team would often be anxious to win a world championship, forgetting that building a foundation was vital.
"Championships are fleeting. Next year there will be another champion," he said. "What you want to do is get a rock-solid base in who you are...What you have in your heart, combined with what you have in your brain, is what will make you a good, strong person."
Among the graduates were 378 individuals with stories of personal trials, like Amanda Bain. Originally en route to complete high school in 1996, she wanted to go to college and eventually join the U.S. Marines. But a month into her junior year, her vision was shattered – her father went to prison, she dropped out and turned to a life of drugs and crime. Upon her second prison term, Bain challenged herself to defy the odds and make constructive use of her short stay. She finished a huge load of school work less than two months. Set to parole 25 days after graduation, Bain said she is now full of self-confidence. She wants to be an example for her 12-year-old daughter and give her own mother a greater sense of pride.
“She cried when I told her I was graduating,” Bain said of her mother. “And I’ve missed a lot of my daughter’s life. But now she’ll be more apt to listen when I tell her to stay in school. I wish I would’ve done this when I was younger. Now I feel like there’s nothing I can’t do.”
Still, like many other offenders, Bain is a realist. She acknowledges it’s hard to find a job – especially with a criminal past. Many graduates further bolster their odds through prison jobs or applying for more sought after positions with Utah Correctional Industries. UCI is a self-sustaining enterprise aimed at saving taxpayer money and giving inmates responsibility and work experience while incarcerated. Among other tasks, UCI inmates gentle horses, perform asbestos abatement, build homes, and make furniture and signage for the State. Graduates also can continue their education by enrolling in vocational-certification programs, offering hands-on training in trades like welding, auto maintenance and culinary arts.
These education and work programs are available to offenders who have demonstrated positive behavior in prison. The effort is part of a broader measure aimed at improving offenders’ knowledge, skills and abilities in hopes they will be able to provide for themselves and their dependents upon release, ultimately abandoning a criminal lifestyle and bolstering public safety in the community. Through grants and work within Adult Probation & Parole, Corrections seeks to help released offenders find employment.
The graduates concluding their high school education at the Draper site comprises more than one-third of the overall statewide inmate-graduate population. Additionally, more than 150 students are expected to graduate from Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison on June 23, and State inmates housed in various counties via a jail-contracting program will earn diplomas from those respective regions. About 1,025 inmates graduated from the combination of those three groups last year.
The Utah Department of Corrections appreciates a positive working relationship with the Utah State Office of Education, Canyons School District, South Sanpete School District, Snow College, Davis Applied Technology, Dixie Applied Technology, Uinta Basin Applied Technology, and the participating county jails along with each of their local school districts.
Top: A Corrections Officer monitors onlooking graduates as they listen to Frank Layden deliver the keynote speech.
Middle: Frank Layden stands at the podium beneath a basketball hoop in the Timpanogos Gymnasium and addresses the graduating class of 2011.
Above: A KSL-TV news camera films footage of Division of Institutional Operations Director Steve Turley addressing the 2011 South Park Academy graduating class.