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Britain's Most Hardened Criminals Are Being Taught Empathy By Two Adorable Goats

By Isabel Togoh

Some of the UK’s most hardened criminals are being taught the importance of valuing others – by a pair of goats named Karen and Faye.

The most dangerous prisoners at HMP Swaleside – half of which are serving life sentences for the most serious crimes – are being encouraged to care for a feed the pygmy goats in an NHS-funded scheme.

The move has not been without critics, who have decried it a waste of taxpayers’ cash, but prison bosses have defended the cost and psychological benefits of the caprine residents at the Kent category B prison.

Prison governor Mark Icke said the initiative helped to combat apathy and depression among inmates serving long sentences, and helps them to develop a working routine which they can take with them on release, Kent Online reported.

“It provides a pathway of psychologically-informed services for a highly complex and challenging offender group which is likely to have severe personality disorders and who pose a high risk of harm to others or a high risk of reoffending in a harmful way,” Icke said.

Having an active work schedule is a robust predictor of positive mental healthMark Icke

He added that the goats, which cost £300 from a sanctuary in Essex, “don’t cost a lot to run”, dampening claims made by The Sun last month that the scheme was costing thousands.

Karen and Faye are also joined by two ducks, a beehive, and nine chickens – the newer ones being hatched and raised on prison grounds in its farm and garden area.

“Having an active work schedule is a robust predictor of positive mental health and wellbeing which is an important outcome for men within our services,” Icke added.

One of the prisoners said of the project: “It makes me feel good. I didn’t used to like myself but now I’ve got the whole world ahead of me.”

Prison inspectors are among the “several high-profile visitors” who have praised the project as “innovative”.

It comes as David Spencer of the Centre for Crime Prevention told The Sun last month: “It beggars belief that anyone would think this is a reasonable use of resources.

“Category B prisons house serious criminals.

“Does anyone really think that petting a few goats is going to keep them on the straight and narrow?”

In recent years, Swaleside has seen riot police sent in to break up an incident between a small number of prisoners in December 2017, with one inmate needing hospital care following a self-inflicted injury.

A year prior, 60 inmates seized control of part of a wing, lighting fires during the unrest.

NHS England said decisions made about prisoners’ mental healthcare were made by local prisons and health services.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/pygmy-goats-named-karen-and-faye-are-providing-companionship-to-some-of-britains-most-serious-criminals_uk_5c371907e4b05cb31c3f9287