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USA: German-style program at a Connecticut maximum security prison emphasizes rehab for inmates

Taking cues from the prison system in Germany, where the main objective is rehabilitation, a program based on therapy for 18 to 25-year-old offenders is taking shape at a prison nicknamed ‘the Rock.’

One of the more radical attempts at prison reform is taking place in a foreboding Connecticut prison nicknamed the Rock. It’s a two year old program based on therapy for 18-25 year old prisoners, whose brains, science shows, are still developing, and their behavior more likely to change. The idea came from Germany where the main objective of prison is rehabilitation and where the recidivism rate is about half that of the U.S. We were in Germany four years ago when then Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy toured the prison system. He returned home inspired and launched the small, German style program at the Rock. It’s too early to tell whether it will reduce recidivism but we wanted to see how the German approach is being tested in America. So, we went to Connecticut by way of a slight detour to the northeast corner of Maine.

The University of Maine at Presque Isle is small in the world of college basketball. But for number 10, Shyquinn Dix, being a student-athlete here is the biggest shot of his life.

Shyquinn Dix: Being able to be around a place where I could just be me and, like, work on myself, and live out my dream is, like, wonderful to me.

Bill Whitaker: I’ve heard that you’re the best player on the team.

Shyquinn Dix: I’m pretty good. (LAUGH)

Bill Whitaker: How ’bout in the classroom?

Shyquinn Dix: Actually made the Dean’s List. 3.8 this semester. All A’s.

Bill Whitaker: It seems improbable.

Shyquinn Dix: Like I wake up in my dorm and I’m like, “I’m really in college right now. This is crazy.” Like, it’s crazy.

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