The program is among a number of animal-based prison programs implemented by Maryland Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Gary Maynard, who grew up on an Oklahoma farm. Other Maryland inmates raise companion dogs, which don't provide physical assistance, and tend retired thoroughbreds.
"Everybody thinks it's about the dogs," Maynard said. "It's about the inmates and the change in their lives."
Warden Frank Bishop said the puppies' arrival in September brought an aura of lightness to Western Correctional Institution. As the dogs moved with their inmate trainers through a chow line one November morning, "there was a sense of calmness," Bishop said.
"In this type of environment, that's incredible," he said. "The animals bring a sense of normalcy."