JSJ Florida Canine Prison Program, Part 1

Adele and Scooter Leas write about “Jin Shin Jyutsu in Florida – Canine Prison Program” in The Main Central Jin Shin Jyutsu Newsletter, issue Number 71, Winter 2011:

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Sitting in a seaside cafe, sipping hot tea and thrilled to be tucked in away from the teeming rain, I can reflect on my day. I have an awareness of feeling humble and thankful for things I so often take for granted. Mostly I am thankful for my ability to feel peace radiating through my body with each breath. I feel profoundly thankful for the freedom this Art has given me. I feel thankful that my passion for sharing this Art with humans and other animals has set my life on a course of a constantly changing and evolving wonder. I am also thankful for the large group of inmates who just enrolled in an intensive program of Jin Shin Jyutsu (JSJ) self-help and canine work based on the self-help work.

Today, (September 21, 2010) was my sixth trip to Bay Correctional Facility in Panama City, Florida. They have a program where the inmates train puppies to become search and rescue dogs and bomb sniffers. This intensive program partners inmates and pups in a living and training regimen round the clock before the dogs graduate. These doggie graduates are serving throughout the U.S. and around the world. They are in airports, on trains, at natural disaster sites, working security details and serving alongside our soldiers in war zones. Prior to the inmates’ involvement, the training success with these dogs leveled out at about twenty-five percent. Now, with the dedication, unlimited time and attention of the inmates, the success rate with the dogs is up to an unprecedented eighty-five percent.

The local paper ran an article about my work with JSJ as part of the rehabilitation of the pit bulls rescued from Michael Vick’s dog fighting kennels, who now live at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. After that, I was contacted by Sharon Gavin, Canine Program Director at the prison in Florida. She said she would love to talk with me about the work, because she had a feeling it could help the dogs and inmates. She said that the biggest challenge for many of the men was to bond with another living being and to be responsible caregivers for a high energy pup. And by the way, there was unfortunately no pay. We set up a visit for the next week, after I explained that I only taught one way. The men would have to do self-help to center themselves and to understand the process a bit before I would instruct them in working with the dogs.

I went through the security clearance process, and somewhat apprehensively headed off to prison. Sharon had told me it was a “medium security prison”. I asked what that meant, and she said, “murder on down.” I then asked what “high security” meant, and she state, “premeditated murder and serial killers.” I was only somewhat reassured by this information. the two-hour drive was filled with conscious deep breaths and many repetitions of the Loving Kindness prayer.

To be continued…

Prayer for Loving Kindness

May I be filled with loving kindness. May I be well. May I be peaceful and at ease. May I be happy.

May you be filled with loving kindness. May you be well. May you be peaceful and at ease. May you be happy.

May all beings be filled with loving kindness. May all be well. May all be peaceful and at ease. May all be happy.

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