Participants take part in the first Summer Rehabilitation Event at Valley State Prison.

Participants take part in the first Summer Rehabilitation Event at Valley State Prison.

By Lt. Matthew Osborn, A.A., Public Information Officer, Valley State Prison

On Saturday, Aug. 30, Valley State Prison (VSP) held its first Summer Rehabilitation Special Event.

This one-day event was organized by the Self Awareness and Recovery (SAR) Inmate Leisure Time Activity Group (ILTAG) to represent the recovery efforts of all such groups.

It was designed to bring unity within the community and the institution, according to organizers. More than 150 inmates attended over the course of two sessions.

The agenda included guest speakers, inmate testimonies, band performances and staff presentations as well as agency booths.

The SAR program was created at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione in 2006. It was born out of a passion for deeper sense of recovery after spending numerous hours in a variety of self-help groups. It was through the testimonies of their peers, SAR inmate founders saw a need to help offenders gain a deeper sense of awareness into the core issues fueling an offender’s addictive and criminal behavior.

The SAR program is intended to provide an emotional outlet for participants to learn and speak about the root causes of their destructive lifestyles. It’s meant to help offenders and their families find healing in their personal lives.

There were over 25 volunteers who came to VSP for this event as community agencies which have helped to create VSP’s successful programs.

Participants listen to a guest speaker.

Participants listen to a guest speaker.

The event also offered a day to honor victims. It offered inmates who have made serious positive changes in their lives an opportunity to reflect on mistakes made, relationships harmed, victims created and fatherless children left behind.

It was a day for inmates to be accountable and responsible for their destructive behaviors as well as for the inmates to describe who they are, what they have learned, what they have been through and where they are headed.

Inmates said the event offered them a chance to let go of the traumatic experiences governing their destructive lifestyles by allowing their higher power to cleanse their spirits from malice, madness, envy, greed, hate, racism, narcissism, and other destructive thoughts which may lead to criminal behavior, addiction, victimization or the destruction of human relationships.

It offered a day to pay tribute to inmates who are living examples of hope and recovery. Inmates remembered all those who died in their addictions, remembered the pain and agony caused to their mothers, and of resentments toward their fathers.

Inmates were able to fellowship and say thank you to peers, facilitators, staff sponsors and staff administrators. Inmates paid respect to all the prison advocacy groups, guests, religious leaders, program directors, drug counselors and supporters of social change.

Warden Ron Davis said he was impressed by the event.

“The effort put forth by everyone associated with Inmate Leisure Time Activity Groups continues to be remarkable, which is evident by the event that has taken place here,” he said. “I want to thank them for their hard work and dedication to such an honorable cause.”

 Community agencies were in attendance for the first Summer Rehabilitation event.

Community agencies were in attendance for the first Summer Rehabilitation event.