Prison Bans Disrespectful Behavior

AIRWAY HEIGHTS — On Tuesday, the correction center in Airway Heights became the largest prison in the country to ban all disrespectful behavior.

There are 600 men locked up inside the minimum security facility, and all of them are eventually going to get out. Because the criminals will soon be put back into society, the Department of Corrections is trying to change their behavior with a new program called Right Living.

The recidivism rate at the Airway Heights facility is 70 percent and a change needed to be made to try and keep these men from going back behind bars.

Benjamin Cary is three months shy of wrapping up a five year term for assault. During his time in prison Cary has run into many other inmates who inherited their illegal lifestyle.

“Some of the people in here, but not all of them, have been raised by criminals and people with a criminal mindset of getting over the man and taking what ever they can from whoever they can,” Cary said.

Corrections officials are now trying to change that mind set with a program that teachers respect and responsibility.

“It can be a prison culture that is characterized by less violence, more safe, more secure, increased respect for everybody,” Rob Herzog of the Airway Heights Correctional Center said.

For example, under the Right Living model, if someone used this prisoner’s headset without their permission it would be considered an insult to all of the men living in the building. Then the community of prisoners would hold the thief accountable, including a public apology.

“It adds a little humility to a man’s life and that’s always a good thing and it reinforces positive behavior and amends for negative behavior,” Herzog said.

Graduates of the Right Living program are five percent less likely to re-offend. It also gives some inmates a chance to understand why they’re still rubbing society the wrong way.                                      

“It forces people to take a look at their self defeating behaviors and why they do the things that they do,” Cary said.

In the coming weeks the staff at the Airway Heights Corrections Center is going to boost the right living program. Guards will be marching inmates to the dinning hall and twice a day meetings to deal with offenses about the community. It’s that structure and discipline the department of corrections is hoping will reduce the number of repeat offenders.