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Second Chance Program Raising Self-Respect in New Mexico Inmates

A unique social rehabilitation model is now in place in the criminal justice system of New Mexico, which offers not only drug rehab but also a program that engenders self-respect in the incarcerated as a way to help reduce criminal tendencies. The program is overseen by Rick Pendery, the national Executive Director of the Second Chance Centers and Joy Westrum, the President of the Second Chance Program (www.secondchanceprogram.net).

"The idea here is to shift the inmate's moral code from one based on criminality to one that is socially desirable, based on survival for himself and others, and one that makes sense to him. If it doesn't make sense to him, he won't follow it.", Pendery explains. "Using The Way to Happiness booklet by L. Ron Hubbard, which is non-religious moral code, these guys are turning around their viewpoints on right and wrong and coming out with a different basis for decisions in their life. That is one of the reasons we get such a low recidivism percentage."

Independent university studies show over a 5-year period that criminal recidivism has dropped to less than 10% for those who have participated prior to release in at least one third of the Second Chance Program in earlier pilot programs.

Westrum has seen this program delivered to thousands of inmates. "The Way to Happiness can help an individual see how moral conduct can improve his survival. When that happens then you have a good chance that he will change his own behavior by his own free will. This is such an effective way to create permanent personality changes."

The inmates are called students, when in the Second Chance Program, according to Pendery: "The book has 21 precepts that are taught to the student in a classroom under close supervision using various study tools learned in the previous course to ensure full comprehension of each moral concept. The student actually practices applying each precept in their daily life, until they have really got the precept as a part of their life. We have observed improvement with the inmate in interpersonal relations, improved responsibility in life, blaming others less, etc."

Dr. Alfonso Paredes, M.D. and Professor Emeritus UCLA School of Behavioral Science states, "It was particularly important to me to have interacted personally with the inmates, shaking hands, talking with them and asking many questions. I observed first hand the rehabilitative process and the responses of hard core drug abusers and law offenders to the program. I have had opportunity to do many visits to substance abuse rehabilitative programs throughout the US for the National Institute on Alchohol Abuse and Alchoholism (NAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). I have had administrative responsibilities for statewide substance abuse rehabilitative systems as well as for programs in major academic institutions in the US. I have never been as deeply impressed as I was during my visit to the Second Chance Program.

When asked how this program is related to Scientology, Westrum said, "Through a licensing agreement with Criminon International, the Second Chance Program, Inc. uses manuals in the field of education as well as drug and criminal rehabilitation based upon research by American researcher and humanitarian, L. Ron Hubbard. These manuals have been evaluated by the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C. and compare favorably to best practice in the criminal justice field. We are non-religious and not a Scientology organization. Anyone, of any religion, can use the research findings of L. Ron Hubbard, without being part of the church or the religion."

"The benefit that these students gain from using our program, in my opinion, is unsurpassed by any other program available in the criminal rehabilitation field. The students, when finishing these courses, have usually found new self respect and this gives them a whole new life. We are very excited about expanding into other states with our program."

Information about the Second Chance program can be found at www.secondchanceprogram.net.

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