An Inmate Who Rehabs Frogs Rehabs Himself

Onetime Walla Walla state pen warden Bobby Rhay liked to say that, while every inmate wasn't bad, most of them "aren't in here for pushing ducks into water." He meant they were not nice people. But yesterday the state Department of Corrections announced that some of its inmates have been pushing frogs into water with great success, trying to rehabilitate them. No, really.

DOC spokesperson Chad Lewis says a program run by staff and offenders at Cedar Creek Corrections Center has received a grant from the Oregon Zoo to continue raising and and rehabbing the Oregon spotted frog. The Littlerock (Thurston County) prison has had a higher success rate in rearing the frog than zoos and nature centers in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, Lewis says.

Last year the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife released 83 Oregon spotted frogs from Cedar Creek Corrections Center in marshes on Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Pierce County. The prison expects to release about that many again this year. Part of the $5,000 grant will be used to raise crickets for the frogs to eat. The Department of Fish and Wildlife currently has to import crickets from Southeastern states due to a local shortage.

The DOC figures it's a 2-fer: the rehabbed frogs will help rehab inmates, says acting prisons supe Dan Pacholke.

"When an offender has researchers and biologists coming up and asking them for their input on scientific projects, it gives the offender a sense of pride and accomplishment. And when offenders have a sense of purpose they are less likely to get involved in criminal activity, whether it's in a prison or in the community."

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