|Crowded U.S. Prison|
Cain's philosophy is rooted in practicality: "The criminal is a selfish person, whatever he wants he takes it. The way to be the opposite of that taker is to be a giver." Even so the prison operates as a working farm, holds rodeos twice yearly, provides a variety of educational opportunities (including parenting programs) and allows for an inmate published and edited magazine. These elements are notable on their own, but as the warden notes: "The only true rehabilitation was moral. I can teach you skills and trades but I just make you a smarter criminal unless we get something in our heart."
As part of this heart-giving program one prisoner with a 149 year sentence says: "I put my hand on his arm and I prayed for him. He was the first one for me to touch out of compassion." Another prisoner with a 60 year sentence says: "I thought maybe if I helped somebody else, that would relieve some of the guilt." Another prisoner talks of his transformation: 'It's less stressful for me because I'm not taking on my own cares, I'm taking on the cares of someone else." Another budding servant leader says: "It's helping us live our life with love." How did these maximum security prisoners learn compassion?
Angola prison now offers the prisoners to serve one another as Hospice volunteers. The volunteers provide the physical services of a nurse's assistant but more importantly they provide companionship and genuine warmth to the end-of-life prisoners. At the end there is a bed side vigil in which the volunteers provide love and support but must also face their own mortality.
I say the warden is a servant leader because he initiated this program knowing full well he believes he could not serve as a Hospice volunteer. Yet I would speculate he is learning from the compassion of the prisoners on a daily basis. To me this servant leader should be commended because he stepped outside of his own limitations. Furthermore I believe this example of Hospice for restorative justice exemplifies a healing element of servant leadership, one in which all who are involved heal.