Fri April 27, 2012
Armenian prison officials tour Wisconsin prisons
A group of prison officials from Armenia is touring Wisconsin prisons this week. The former Soviet republic is looking for tips on creating a new probation and parole system.
The seven member Armenian delegation visited three Wisconsin prisons Waupun, Oregon Correctional, and the Taycheedah women's prison. The tour is part of a corrections assistance program run by the U.S. State Department. Daniel Hastings is the State Department's point person for the Armenian project. He says the program now run in about 30 countries began in the mid 2000's Iraq war as policy makers confronted the complexity of helping countries build democratic institutions, "We realized that a key part of helping countries after conflicts was civilian security, and a key part of that obviously is not only working with law enforcement which police and prosecutors, and not only working with courts but oh "duh" e need to work with prisons too because they're the third part of the criminal justice system."
Hastings says Armenian officials chose Wisconsin to seek advice from because of the state's success at adapting new prison policies to work in old prison buildings like the Waupun prison built in 1851, and because of its re-entry programs for inmates returning home after serving their sentences. State Department of Corrections spokesman Tony Streveler says the Armenian team will return next year for training, "It's probably going to be a combination of in classroom, shadowing of persons on jobs, whether it be in probation or prison. The experiential piece on how do you actually do your job on a day to day basis."
Members of the Armenian delegation say they also hope to invite their Wisconsin counterparts to visit Armenian prisons to see how the reform process is working once the training program is complete.