(h/t Lois Aherns The Real Costs of Prisons)
Photographer: Julia Marie Rendleman
Project Title: “The Impact Incarceration Program”
The Impact Incarceration Program at the Dixon Springs Boot Camp in Southern Illinois is a 120-day program where inmates participate in a military-like boot camp instead of serving their judge-mandated sentence, usually between three and seven years. While the facility primarily houses male inmates, there are currently 22 female inmates.
“I think the program can be a real benefit to the women because there are so few of them – they get very personalized attention,” said Officer Teresa Robinson.
The graduation rate for the female inmates is over 95% and the recidivism rate for three years with no new felony convictions is 23.3%, compared to 32.9% at a traditional correctional facility.
This project considers the development of five women as they go through the boot camp program at Dixon Springs. All five women are first-time offenders with sentences under seven years. Forty-five days into the project, one inmate, Catherine Thomas, “quit”, or was kicked out of the program for slapping another female inmate. She will return to Dwight Correctional Facility to serve her full sentence of four years.
“She (Thomas) wasn’t taking it seriously,” said inmate Robin Johnson. “That means you not taking your life serious, and everything’s not a joke.”
Of the remaining four women, three are at Dixon Springs for aggravated assault. These women, in only six weeks, express a gratitude for the program that is hard to explain since the majority of their day is spent doing hard labor under rigorous scrutiny.
“You get more out of this than you ever would at prison. Prison, compared to this is the Hotel Paradise,” said inmate Courtney Andrews.
The final inmate this project follows is 29-year old Marita Sanders, who has a four-year college degree and was incarcerated for embezzling $70,000 from her accounting firm in Chicago. Unlike the other three women, Sanders is, admittedly, not focused on changing but wants to get in and get out in 120 days.