In a community center setting, adults who have gotten in trouble with the law are getting help with acquiring the life skills they need to be stable, make an honest living and stay out of jail.
The first and sometimes only course anyone assigned by a judge or parole officer to do is The Way to Happiness course. It supplants confused and criminal moral codes with a moral code based on common sense. Secondly they would do the Communication Course to improve this skill and teach that conflicts can be handled with communication and not violence. The continuing program would be tailor made for the individuals needs, consisting of Literacy, the Learning Skills for Life Course, the How to Deal with Ups & Downs in Life Course, the Successful Parenting Skills Course, the Understanding & Overcoming Addiction Course and the Changing Conditions in Life Course.
In cooperation with Home Builders Institute, Criminon will be offering vocational training.
Here is a success story from a graduate of a Criminon Community Education Center:
"About two months ago, I was sentenced to the Criminon program. I was only in front of the judge on a ticket for driving without a valid license back in 1993. What the judge didn't know is that I have been in and out of the justice system since I was 12 years old. I'm now 42. I spent the ages of 13 to 23 behind bars. It was during these years that I learned my trade of custom building furniture and doing upholstery, which has been my trade for 20 years now. I don't have a high school degree and until recently, I barely knew how to read.
"Without going into too much detail, I have lived a very hard life. I have seen the worst that the streets could give me. It has caused me great suffering.
"When I was sentenced to this program instead of being sent to jail, I was happy for not getting a harsher sentence that I actually deserved. What I didn't realize is that I was sentenced to a much happier life. When I walked into the Criminon center, my goal was to just get through it, satisfy my sentence and walk away. What I didn't realize was that I was going to grow mentally, morally and to become a much better person. This program has taught me first how to read, study and comprehend information I'm trying to learn. This simple key unlocked in me what I always had. It gave me the ability to understand and comprehend what the teachers could not make me comprehend in school. I now have the key of how to study and read and understand what I read.”
Former inmates on parole and probation, whether they have been enrolled in a Criminon Course while incarcerated or not, can come to a community center location to take Criminon Courses or, in some cases may do them right in the parole and probation office.
The courses are geared towards giving the individual the life skills and vocational skills he or she needs to find a job, get an apartment and get started on the road to a contributive and honest life.
The courses offered are the same as the ones used in the diversion program and include The Way to Happiness Course, the Communication Course, the Learning Skills for Life Course, the How to Deal with Ups & Downs in Life Course, the Successful Parenting Skills Course, the Understanding & Overcoming Addiction Course and the Changing Conditions in Life Course, as well as a Literacy program (if needed).
Here is what one inmate wrote about his success with the Personal Integrity Course:
"I finally saw that it wasn't somebody else doing it to me, but my own actions that created my present and future. It is only by my own determinism that I can find and make the person I want to be and live ethically. No one can do it for me. I can only make it, we can only make it, if we are true to ourselves and live to the greater good of the greater number. I finally get it now. I will make that future that I can see where we all can make it. I understand now."
In cooperation with Correctional Departments, Criminon sets up on-site programs in correctional adult facilities. Trained Criminon staff members and volunteers go into the facility on a regular and agreed upon schedule and work with the inmates in a classroom setting.
Usually inmates have successfully completed their program get trained as supervisors and then work with other inmates, both together with outside staff or in some cases actually take over and run the program.
The courses delivered are the basic Criminon courses as detailed in the Criminon Courses section of this web-site.
Drug handling can be part of it, where the installation of a sauna and running the program 7 days a week is permissible. See more under the Drug Rehabilitation section on this website.
Here is a success story from an inmate who completed Criminon's Communication Course:
"Upon completing the communication course I have accomplished one of the biggest wins of my life. At one point in my life I thought that I truly knew everything about communicating with people, but I was wrong. By way of this program and its discovery and through the instructors and material that's provided I have learned one of the most important and required tools there is in order for one to get along with people; not only family members and friends but anyone you will come into contact with in the future, after developing these skills. Good communication is very important and it can make everyone's life better if they're armed with these skills. After completing this course I've already recognized the change in the way I communicate with people and how I can help them communicate with me better as well. This is a great course and I think that everyone should be taught these skills, because to me, communication is what makes the world go round. The lack of proper communication can screw up any situation. Thanks Criminon!"
Inmate, Lorton, VA
This grass-roots program was instituted in 1989 by a handful of volunteers and continues to be administered today by hundreds of Criminon volunteers across the world. Through the mail, trained volunteer supervisors administer correspondence courses to inmates. The Way to Happiness is always the first course, and when complete, the inmate can then choose from a list of options of the courses he wishes to take next, and continue until he has completed the program. The courses include Learning Skills for Life, How to Deal With Ups and Downs in Life, Successful Parenting Skills and Understanding & Overcoming Addiction.
The way the correspondence courses work is simple: An inmate finds out about the course either through word of mouth or materials provided to the prison. He writes in to start a course. Criminon sends him the appropriate course materials, which include the course book and the accompanying lessons and drills. The inmate reads a chapter or section of his course and then immediately does the corresponding application lessons. Such action ensures that he will see how the material actually applies to his life, and thus the learning becomes practical knowledge instead of some abstract idea.
All lessons must be answered and mailed back to Criminon where a correspondence course supervisor grades the responses and results of what the inmate has done. These are then returned to the inmate, who then either corrects what he has done on the previous chapter, or if everything was understood and applied properly, continues onto the next section of his course.
This approach guarantees that the inmate never goes beyond a section without complete comprehension, and the ability to successfully apply the lessons to his life. With these correspondence courses, any inmate in any part of the world can reap the benefits of the Criminon program, and can restore to himself his self-respect, his self-trust, and can learn to live with honesty and integrity – all of which combine to make a life of decency and happiness.
One inmate wrote the following about The Way to Happiness Correspondence Course:
"The Way to Happiness course has introduced an alternative to the failing life I once lived. An alternative that has challenged me to dare to succeed. I have been reborn. This course has resurrected from my conscious things which I felt were lost, i.e. self-respect, pride, love for myself and others, etc. I have been given a new lease on life and I feel that I can overcome anything. I have acquired the necessary tools, knowledge and understanding to excel in society. I have a second chance."