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Enlightenment for prisoners

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

Lifestyle Redirection’s 15th graduating class graciously accepted certificates of completion on June 13 at the Dixon prison.

I was one of 24 program participants attending Lifestyle for 4 days a week, 2 hours each day, for a total of 96 hours. My group varied in age, nationality and time left in prison.

Lifestyle Redirection’s two main facilitators – the positive living unit coordinator/counselor and a casework supervisor – taught 8 weeks of classes; four therapeutic service staff provided the 4 remaining weeks of classes.

The topics covered thoroughly with plenty of class discussion were (by weeks starting with week one): self-esteem; setting boundaries, men’s roles, victims, anger symptoms, dealing with anger; violence triggers, trauma, domestic violence, healthy relationship I, healthy relationship II, and wellness.

Nervous and unsure of being called on, facilitator Messina allowed me to speak to the graduating class of former Lifestyle students, administrators and therapeutic staff. I shared a story about how every human being is a miracle from conception. One out of millions of sperm reached the prized egg to start the creation process. I thanked the facilitators and wardens for their energy and effort in providing the class.

It’s been analyzed that most people come from dysfunctional families, especially prisoners who normally have no fathers and drop out of high school. Lifestyle Redirection gave me and hopefully others a different insight on how to develop healthy relationships, recognize unhealthy boundaries, handle anger, and develop self-esteem.

Lifestyle Redirection, better than I expected, allowed lively group participation. Every prisoner, some more than others, shared about their lives and backgrounds, which made the class very interesting.

Our class scored 100 percent on the Jeopardy contest, making us the third of 15 classes to achieve that mark. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.

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