Offenders Get Back on Track by Helping Others
July 18, 2013
Offenders will have more opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others, helping them get their own lives back.
Justice Minister Ross Landry announced today, July 18, that Working on Our Futures (WOOF), a program where offenders help get dogs ready for families wanting to adopt, is being extended for another year. Work will also start on Re-Cycle, a new bicycle recycling program that helps give bikes to low-income children.
“We want to make our communities as safe as possible. To do this, we must provide offenders with an opportunity to become contributing members of society,” said Mr. Landry. “Programs like WOOF and Re-Cycle enable offenders to help kids and families and give offenders real skills. They help offenders integrate back into their communities, and in some cases, become more employable.
“Now that Nova Scotians have helped with the hard work of balancing the budget, we are able to consider new, innovative programs like this that benefit families, kids and communities.”
Last December, the province partnered with the Nova Scotia SPCA to pilot the WOOF program at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility. Since then, the program has trained 11 correctional officers and one captain, worked with 12 offenders, and prepared over 70 puppies for adoption.
“Initial evaluation of the program has been very positive,” said Capt. John Landry, Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility. “The staff at the facility report improved offender behaviour and reduced tension in the day rooms where the program is held which is a win-win for the offenders, the staff and the puppies.”
“This program is a great example of government and not-for-profit working together to find progressive solutions for our communities,” said Sandra Flemming, provincial animal care director. “Training our puppies to become adoptable relieves pressure on our SPCA shelters and ensures the dogs find good homes.”
Following the success of the WOOF program, Re-Cycle will be developed and will run out of the Cape Breton Correctional Facility.
The correctional facility will work with police agencies across the province to collect lost, stolen or unclaimed bicycles, and the public will be able to donate unwanted bicycles, which the offenders will then repair.
“We are very pleased to work with government on this innovative program,” said Sgt. Tom Ripley, Cape Breton Regional Police and executive director of the Association for Safer Cape Breton Communities. “To be able to play a role in getting bicycles into the hands of children is something organizations across the island will be very happy about.”
The province will work with community groups to assist with the collection and distribution of the bicycles, and training will begin for staff and offenders on bicycle repair.
“We have worked closely with the police over the years to reach a common goal – to serve our community and ensure those in need are provided for,” said Shaun Butler, program manager of Cape Breton-Victoria District Office Child Welfare. “Providing bicycles to children who otherwise could not afford one is a perfect example of how we can do just that.”
Re-Cycle is modeled after programs in Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia and will require a one-time start-up cost of $40,000 to cover retrofitting a work station, purchasing of tools and equipment and staff training.