Rehabilitation was focus for retiring prison leader
By Lt. J. Campbell
Avenal State Prison
The goal of rehabilitation is to help inmates stop being prisoners of their past and become architects of their future. This philosophy resonated with Correctional Lt. Douglas Crenshaw.
With little guidance and limited resources, but with the full support of the Warden, Lt. Crenshaw reached out to entire facility populations in search of inmates who understood this vision and were willing to champion the cause. (Note: Some of the video below was filmed prior to COVID.)
In his nearly 25 years at Avenal State Prison (ASP), Lt. Crenshaw built programs, adding a variety of rehabilitative components geared toward changing the hearts, minds, and behaviors of the inmate population.
Along the way, he also changed the culture of the correctional staff he supervised. Inmates and staff alike witnessed the shift in culture at ASP and most began to buy into the change rehabilitative programming was providing. Staff began to request more programs instead of resisting; attributing the requests to the changes seen in the inmate population.
Family members have also acknowledged the changes seen in their loved ones. Lt. Crenshaw worked many extra hours of his own personal time to ensure programs were running and supporting the stakeholders who shared in the vision of rehabilitation.
With limited funds available for programming materials, Lt. Crenshaw was able to partner with community organizations, who in turn provided the needed materials to sustain rehabilitative programs allowing the population to give back to the community through artistic expression.
Lt. Crenshaw supported the inmate population by attending graduations, interacting with family members, and was always willing to assist in whatever capacity was needed. He even helped out in the dining hall serving inmates their meals.
Some of the programs Lt. Crenshaw was involved in and passionate about:
- Youth Adult Awareness Program (YAAP). This program partners with school districts to help teenagers make better choices and avoid criminality.
- The Guiding Rage into Power (GRIP). GRIP is a one-year comprehensive offender accountability program serving violent and long-term offenders. There are four program elements which Lt. Crenshaw fully embraced: Stopping Your Violence, Developing Emotional Intelligence, Cultivating Mindfulness, and Understanding Victim Impact. Learn more.
- The Actors’ Gang Prison Project. This project endeavors to unlock the human potential in the interest of rehabilitation by using the Actor’s Gang theatrical techniques which foster self-esteem, tolerance and non-violent expression, inmate leadership development, conflict resolution skills, team building, and collaboration across race and gang affiliation. Learn more.
Lt. Crenshaw’s career
- Started the Academy Feb. 24, 1996.
- Reported to ASP April 6, 1996.
- Promoted to Correctional Sergeant in 2002.
- Promoted to Correctional Lieutenant in 2007.
- Devoted his entire career to ASP.
- Retired after 24 years on July 31, 2020.