Helping Stop Recidivism Through Animal Sanctuaries

Diana Shaffner

Anderson County resident, Diana Shaffner, has seen a problem that is affecting not only our community, but countless others across the nation.  Almost everyone who ends up in the criminal justice system is given almost no help upon being released from prison and that in turns helps fuel recidivism as they desperately try to survive.  Diana is working on creating a whole new way to help transition former prisoners back into society.

Diana originally started seeing this problem a number of years ago when she lived in Texas.  Having always been involved in equine rescue and training, she decided to create a therapeutic riding program.  Working with a number of teenagers with behavioral problems, she got to meet their parents and see just how devastating incarceration can be for a whole family.

Moving to Anderson County about three years ago, she bought a 50 acre farm where she keeps a number of her rescued horses and other farm animals as part of an animal sanctuary.  Called Good Acres Sanctuaries, she started building infrastructure with a plan to help others in the future.

Diana thought about recreating her horse riding therapy again here in Anderson County, but she decided to go further.  She began opening her farm to the children of inmates, ex-felons, and parolees as a way of therapy.  She has found that children experience less stress and anxiety when interacting with the rescued animals.

She has also started a dedicated magazine called Kentucky’s Prison Life that is printed directly in the prisons and distributed to prisoners across the state.  Working with the department of corrections, the magazine helps provides resources for inmates to get back on their feet when they leave.

But Diana has a big vision that will tie everything together.  After being released from prison, former inmates are left with little resources to reintegrate into society and many suffer during the transition, especially if they don’t have family members to help.  According to Diana, this just increases the recidivism rate.

“The whole being in prison or jail thing and then coming out with no help is a complete setup for failure,” Diana said. “We have people running around here that are so desperate. They need to survive somehow.”

To help alleviate the problem, Diana is envisioning creating a halfway farm where former inmates can work on the farm and transition back into society without risking going back to prison to just survive.  She hopes to buy another farm in addition to the one she owns now and build small houses for the former inmates to live as they transition.  She hopes to see it expand into a whole network of halfway farms.

As the first step to her plan, Diana has created a support group called Re-START which will be hosted at Anderson Christian Church.  Bringing together former inmates once a month, it will help provide mutual support and networking to former inmates to learn about resources to transition back into society more easily.  The first meeting will be held Tuesday, October 18th, at 6:30pm.

For more information about the support group and Good Acres Sanctuaries, check out their website or Facebook page.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPin on PinterestEmail this to someone
Posted in Family & Community.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.