Horses helping inmates at Okanagan jail

Horses are being used at the jail near Oliver in a new prisoner rehabilitation program.

Inmates have built a small barn and three corals on the grounds of the Okanagan Correctional Centre near Oliver.

It’s for a new and unique program that uses horses to hopefully help rehabilitate prisoners.

“Working with horses has been proven to help people overcome mental-health issues, trauma and other challenges and this program is designed to foster a love of this work that may continue post-release,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.

In a partnership arrangement, the Osoyoos Indian Band provides two trained handlers to daily guide up to six inmates in looking after two horses.

It’s hoped there will be therapeutic benefits to working with the animals as the inmates commit to a daily routine and learn accountability.

“Inmates who have been involved in the horse program have reported feeling a greater sense of connection and have said taking part in the program has helped them to better appreciate Indigenous culture, the importance of nature and the power of reflection in order to make more positive decisions in the future,” said Osoyoos Indian Band Horse Program leader Robert Stelkia in a news release.

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The release says the cost of the program is under $40,000.

“I believe working with horses has the power to really help some of the men in our care and I am thrilled to see this program up and running,” said OCC warden Steve DiCastri.

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