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LorCI Bee Keeping Program and Reception Reform

LorCI Bee Keeping Program and Reception Reform

Lorain Correctional Institution (LorCI) started its first ever Bee Keeping program in November 2012 and received 100,000 honeybees in April 2013.  Prior to the start of this program, reception centers really had no type of programming for the inmate population.  LorCI staff focused mainly on getting the inmates classed to proper security levels and sent out to their parent facilities so they could begin programming.  Warden Clipper challenged her staff with developing creative programs that would reform the reception process as rehabilitation needs to begin when an inmate enters through the doors of reception and not once they get to their parent facility.  Inmates are in reception for 60 to 90 days, sometimes longer, “this is a lot of wasted time that we could be providing meaningful programming to them” states Warden Clipper.

The first program to be introduced was the Bee Keeping program.  This is a two year long program where the inmates not only learn about how to maintain honeybees but also how to harvest the honey and make various products from the honey.  During the first year of the program, inmates learn about honeybee keeping and how to build Langstroth style hives.  They work towards preparing to receive the honeybees and learn how to install the bees into the hives as well as care for them once they arrive.  Once the honeybees start to produce the honey, they then learn how to harvest the honey so that products such as soap, candles, lip balm and lotions can be made.  These products are then sold to staff and community members at various events.  Once the weather starts to turn cold, the students are taught how to winterize the hives to preserve the honeybees for the winter.  The second year of the program includes a continuation of basic education on beekeeping, learning how to maintain the original hives and mentoring new student beekeepers. In addition education on specialized areas like queen rearing and grafting, honeybee biology, disease prevention, construction of different hive types and pollination ecology are also taught. 

The bee keeping program helps to provide the inmates with an opportunity to learn a new set of skills as well as supports the inmate’s rehabilitation by ensuring their positive contribution to society and the environment as a whole.  The skills the inmates learn in this program help them to develop leadership skills, improve their self-worth, their sense of belonging and can be utilized upon their release should they choose to pursue a career as a bee keeper.

The next focus was placing inmate mentors in reception housing units.  These mentor’s encourage compliance with institution rules, exhibit pro-social behaviors, assist unit staff with clerical needs and provide unit programs to reception inmates.  Mentor’s live within the reception units and are there to help reception inmates learn how to cope with institutional living as well as answer their general questions such as how to use the inmate phone system or how long it will be before they receive a visit from a loved one.  LorCI has teamed up with Lorain County Community College (LCCC) through a three year grant, Positive Reentry for Ohio Prisoners.  This grant will allow Reception Reform mentors and staff to take college courses at no cost to them.  Through this grant, mentors and staff members will take college courses in Coaching and Mentoring and will earn college credits.  They will be provided with a student ID from the college and upon their release, may go back to the college for additional classes should they so choose.  In addition to the partnership with LCCC, a Fatherhood initiative has been developed with Passages.  Through this initiative inmate mentors will be taught how to facilitate the class and will begin teaching the Fatherhood Development Curriculum to reception fathers.  This curriculum offers practitioners a field tested guide to working with fathers in providing support, information and motivation in areas of life skills, parenthood, relationships (including marriage and team parenting), and health.    

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