Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sterling prisoner trains dog to help boy with autism

The Denver Post

Nine-year-old Zack Tucker gave Clyde a perplexed stare in the visitors hall at Sterling Correctional Facility.
"His teeth feel like they're made for bone- crushing," said Zack, after getting nipped while putting food in the chocolate Labrador's mouth.
Colorado prisoners have trained hundreds of dogs rescued from shelters as part of a work program that began in 2002. But Clyde is one of the first dogs trained to meet the needs of a child with autism such as Zack.
The credit goes to convicted killer Christopher Vogt, whose dedication to animals and whose skill with people have earned him such trust in prison that he is allowed to interact directly with Zack as the two work together with the boy's new dog.

gets so engrossed in his work that he assumes the roles of the people who will receive the service dogs he trains. Such role-playing helps him teach each animal how to respond to its future master. In 2002, Vogt spent months in a wheelchair while training a dog to help him dress and retrieve things. He has pretended to be many other people, including a boy with cerebral palsy and a victim of rape. Now he acts as though he has autism.
Since Zack easily gets confused and then breaks down in tears of frustration, Vogt, in training Clyde, would regularly put his hands to his face and cry just as he was told Zack does. He has taught Clyde that when Zack does it, Clyde is to interrupt him by nudging him in the face with his nose.
So how did Vogt learn to cry on command?
"I think of the things that make me sad" — like what happened Feb. 9, 1995.
On that day, according to records, David Doremus used a rolling pin in beating to death 39-year-old Clifton resident Gregg Lane Staley in his sleep. Afterward, Doremus persuaded Vogt to stab Staley. Vogt has argued that Staley was already dead at the time.
Vogt and Doremus were caught three years later. Vogt was sentenced in 1999 to 48 years in
prison for second-degree murder. Doremus is serving the same sentence. In his cell this week, Vogt sat under a barred window and demonstrated another of Zack's habits: Vogt opened a book, began reading and then suddenly stared blankly. Clyde nudged Vogt's cheek with his snout. Vogt said such a maneuver will keep Zack focused.
Vogt said his girlfriend, an elementary school teacher, first got him interested in helping kids with autism. She sent him magazine articles about how dogs have helped them.
Vogt, eligible for parole in 2018, is now a certified master dog trainer. He has taught scores of inmates how to train dogs and has written two picture books for kids, including "Your Four-Footed Friend."

No comments: