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Celebrity offers support for RJD POOCH program

RJD POOCH program and people touring the correctional facility.
Rosie O'Donnell tours rehabilitative areas of RJD Correctional Facility.

The POOCH program at RJ Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD) has found a supporter in TV and film personality Rosie O’Donnell.

(See video at the bottom of this story.)

Dogs, green space proposals aid in RJD rehabilitation

Showing her support for the program, she visited RJD to meet some of the staff, incarcerated dog trainers and tour the facility.

The POOCH program is made possible thanks to Guide Dogs of America/Tender Loving Canines, in partnership with RJD. The program trains incarcerated participants in Non-Designated Programming Facilities to provide a safe, clean, and humane environment for the care, custody, training, and control of dogs.

The trained dogs help people with PTSD and autism, while also aiding incarcerated participants’ rehabilitation.

The incarcerated trainers play an important role in the POOCH program, helping people beyond prison walls. Dozens of RJD participants are trained to train the dogs.

O’Donnell said she’d like to help raise funds to support the POOCH program.

“We have to display humanity in order to display humanity back,” she said. “I am interested in helping any way I can, bringing attention to the actual state of prisons in the country. This one is really a stand-out in terms of trying to encompass the whole human being.”

The incarcerated population in Facility E also created a mural believed to be the largest of its kind in the country. To make the prison a more positive living environment, the entire inner facility has slowly been transformed into a canvas.

There is also the beautification project with multiple stages seeking community involvement through donations. One of these stages includes constructing a small dog run, allowing dogs to run off-leash. The plan is to add additional turf areas around the prison, creating a more natural environment conducive to rehabilitation.

Video and story by Pedro Calderon Michel, Deputy Press Secretary

Learn more about CDCR’s K-9 programs.

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