By Lincoln Johnson, Supervisor of Correctional Education Program (A)
Centinela State Prison
A group of 60 inmates at Centinela State Prison recently attended a 30-hour workshop for the Choice Theory Internal Empowerment Coaching Program. The workshop, the first to take place inside of a men’s institution within CDCR, is led and moderated by Lester Trichè, principal of El Prado Adult School inside California Institution for Women.
Choice Theory is a non-controlling psychology focusing on behaviors, sustainable relationships, and individual choices that can lead to healthy, productive lives. The goal is to teach students to find their own answers to the Relationship, Behavior, Choice and Trust issues that trouble them. In the process, they teach themselves and others how to achieve effective and responsible self-reformation.
Under the direction of Mr. Trichè, and with the support of Centinela’s principal, the workshop included input and presentations from organizations and individuals from South Central Los Angeles and Imperial Valley College.
The emphasis in the workshop was on using “Internal Control Psychology,” as opposed to “External Control Psychology,” to initiate positive changes. The instructors helped students identify their own distressing thoughts and actions, and provided a safe environment within which students can realistically self-evaluate. Instructors identify ways and means to access practical information that will encourage students to change disordered thinking and acting; and become, in most cases, self-reformed. Each participant received a certificate of achievement and can use the workshop to receive college credit from Loyola Marymount University.
Participation in the event was open to interested individuals. This included those from all levels of education, behavior and sentences.
The organizers said they wanted to have a large swath of experiences and backgrounds that could access the curriculum and provide a representative sample of inmates inside of a correctional facility. Being the first of its kind, this cohort of students will maintain contact and their progress and development will be noted.
The goal is to keep these transformative programs available to the population that needs them most, according to officials.