Freedom Means Correct Decisions

Daily Point of Light # 3411 Mar 1, 2007

The Medical Social Work Department of Federal Medical Center Devens (FMCD), a Federal Bureau of Prisons Hospital, has developed a program consisting of minimum security inmates who volunteer their time presenting panel presentations to various community audiences. This outreach effort allows the inmates to tell personal accounts of their crimes, their personal life histories, their experiences in court, and finally their experiences during prison. In addition to their own experiences, the inmates emphasize how their decision to engage in criminal activities has affected their families as well. The inmates intend to convey to the audience what lessons they have learned by their criminal behavior and resulting incarceration in the hope that others will not make the same mistakes they did.

The presentation is not meant to scare the audience in an attempt to deter criminal behavior but it is simply a way of sharing their lives, opportunities lost, and personal insight. Following the presentation, the audience has the opportunity to ask questions.

It is believed that the inmates' compelling and sobering stories offer a realistic degree of insight to the realities and consequences of irresponsible behavior, drug abuse, greed, poor self-worth, and peer pressure. The presentation is an authentic example of the loss of one's freedom that is always the result of criminal behavior. The inmates attempt to balance this example with their own rehabilitative efforts in demonstrating the positive actions a person can take in dealing with the challenges of life. Hopefully through sharing their experiences, these inmates may be able to inspire, enlighten, or convince others to choose a more pro-social lifestyle.

The FMCD presenters have been carefully screened and selected, and are considered model inmates by staff that interact with them on a daily basis. The inmates that participate in this program volunteer their time; they do not receive any form of compensation or time off of their sentence. Beginning December 2004, FMCD Presenters started going out into the community to speak to a varying audience. Presentations have been given at the Parker Charter Parker High School, several Boys and Girls Clubs, Ayer High School, Bryant College, Leicester High School, Quabbin Regional High School, Quinsigamond Community College, Anna Maria Collegem, and Billerica High School. In October 2006, two presenters spoke to an audience of 300 sophomore boys at St. Johns High School during their "Making Correct Choices" day. To date, the "FMCD" program at Devens has presented to more than 1,551 students.