Programs Initiated or Run by the Men in Prison for Their Peers

We have separated the positive programs that we will be discussing into those that primarily benefit other men in the prison, those that primarily benefit segments of the outside community, and those that bring the outside community into the prison for meaningful interactions. These are useful but largely artificial distinctions as many programs benefit both those on the inside and those on the outside. Moreover, given that the vast majority of prisoners will be released back into the community, any new skills or increased competencies developed by the men in prison will transfer outside of the penitentiary’s walls. In addition, any program that helps the men inside likely helps their families, and actions and programs that benefit families and communities may be helpful to the men in prison sooner or later. In all cases, programs that are created in prison are developed only through the sustained efforts of prisoners with the cooperation of staff members and administration.

Trevor notes that some events and programs take extraordinary effort on the part of the men, especially those leading programs, inside the prison. It can take months and years of patience and compromise to ultimately navigate the bureaucracy of the prison and attain approvals from staff members, the security team, and layers of administration. When asked whether such programs are worth the effort and the grappling with the prison’s strict security measures, Trevor replied: “so long as you are doing it for the right reasons and there isn’t something of greater value that could be getting done in place of whatever event is in question, absolutely it’s worth the effort.”

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