A program that gives inmates rewards for good behavior is showing promise at the state prison in Limon, Colo., reports the Denver Post. The program, Security Threat Administrative Review, or STAR, is one of new initiatives the Colorado Department of Corrections is trying to curb violence at Limon, a prison known for problems. Other new ideas at Limon are designed to provide incentives for good behavior, including giving some inmates perks such as padded chairs, early meals, a large flat-screen TV and inmate-purchased DVDs of “Avatar,” “Twilight” and “Rambo.”
Limon’s record of inmate violence made it an unlikely candidate for testing more humane behavior-modification techniques. But the proof of the programs’ success is in the numbers. In the past 14 months, the 260 inmates in the “Incentive Unit” in cellblocks 5 and 6, who constitute 27 percent of the prison’s total population, committed just 26 rule violations – 2 percent of the 1,253 violations committed by all inmates. Before STAR, inmates with disciplinary problems were shuffled through the system through progressively more restrictive confinement until they reached the state’s maximum-security prison at Cañon City. But through classes designed to teach inmates how to better control their emotions, STAR gives them a chance to gradually earn their way back into the general population. At the same time, the program allows inmates a chance to earn better living conditions through good behavior.