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DC Department of Corrections Featured in CNN Special

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Washington, DC—The DC Department of Corrections (DOC) is featured in a CNN broadcast focusing on incarceration in America. The special, airing on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” program, examines many of the most pressing issues impacting jails and prisons across the nation including, recidivism and rehabilitation; educating incarcerated juveniles; the rise of female offenders; and prison reentry; in an effort to increase public awareness of these issues and evaluate the effectiveness of this country’s penal system.

The book club/poetry writing program held weekly for juvenile offenders at the Central Detention Facility (DC Jail) is among the special highlights of this telecast as CNN examines correctional programs focusing upon this escalating prison population. In an on-site visit to the DC Jail, CNN engaged the book club participants in a candid discussion where upon the 16- and 17 year-old males who are detained in DOC custody as adults, revealed their personal perceptions on life, the effects of incarceration on their future, and the positive influence creative writing has on their capacity to learn.

DC Department of Corrections Director Devon Brown, nationally renowned for his pioneering works that educate persons who are incarcerated, is also featured in the special. In a probing interview on the state of crime and justice, Director Brown stated, “While we, as a society should rightfully be tough on crime, we must also be smart on crime.” Director Brown continued, “The majority of persons incarcerated will someday return to their communities, and it is our intent that they return more constructively oriented than when they entered our gates. It is critical that we fully utilize the options and resources available to impart positive thinking and behavior among inmates that influence sustained rehabilitation.”

Director Brown acknowledged that the book club and creative writings are important to the juveniles’ overall development and are part of a comprehensive undertaking to enrich the lives of the inmate population.  Among the innovative projects Director Brown has introduced to the District’s corrections system since his appointment last year are the channeling of inmate viewing from “junk TV” entertainment to educational and health enhancing videos by rewiring the sets in the housing units to control what inmates are capable of watching; providing inmates with playing cards that appear ordinary on the surface but are encased with pertinent, educationally, enriching material; and establishing organized chess tournaments involving local university students.

The CNN special airs in three parts during the week of February 19. Consult your local listing for the specific channel and times.