Taiwan Prison Dog Training Helps Inmates Stay Away from Crime

Taiwan Prison Dog Training Helps Inmates Stay Away from Crime

What you need to know

Dog trainers say the recidivism rate among inmates who trained dogs is 'very low.'

A dog trainer working at a prison in Taiwan believes that giving inmates time with stray dogs can help combat recidivism.

A program that has been running at Hsinchu Prison for a decade has dog trainers teach prisoners how to train stray dogs. In addition to preparing the animals for adoption, the prisoners learn how to improve their own behavior, dog trainer Chen Ju-lon (陳鉅龍) says.

Chen makes weekly trips to the prison in northern Taiwan to help run the program. He told The News Lens International that prisoners who work with the animals often reflect on their past mistakes and become determined to “start over” after they leave prison.

“By interacting with the dogs, the prisoners open their hearts and become more willing to fix the mistakes they made,” he said.

The rate of recidivism among inmates who trained dogs at Hsinchu Prison is “very low,” he said.

The program was initiated by prison superintendent Huang Rong-rui (黃榮瑞), who was concerned with the stray dog problem in Taiwan and was inspired by similar programs overseas.

Low rates of recidivism among prisoners who take part in dog training programs have also been observed in the U.S. As the Nevada Law Journal observed in 2014, “One program in Washington reports that the average three-year recidivism rate in the state is 28 percent, but it is only five percent for inmates that have participated in its [dog] program.”

According to a prison expert quoted in a 2012 article, Taiwan’s recidivism rate was about 60 percent.

In Hsinchu, the training program lasts about four months, with prisoners able to work with the animals for several hours each morning and afternoon. After each program, most of the animals are ready to be adopted into homes and are kept at animal shelters to await adoption.

Chen said that although Taiwanese corrections officials are willing to expand the program to other prisons, factors including prison capacity and budget constraints have prevented this from happening.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: Olivia Yang