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Who Let The Dogs In? Dog Training In Prison

Michael Duran works with a dog in the Paws on a Mission program in the training area at Solano State Prison.
Bryan Mazza
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KALW/ Uncuffed
Michael Duran works with a dog in the Paws on a Mission program in the training area at Solano State Prison.

Prison yards in California are starting to look a little different than they did a few years ago. Many incarcerated people are now carrying around digital tablets they can use to listen to music, or make calls anywhere in the prison. There are new sports popping up - like pickleball games between staff and incarcerated people. And at Solano State Prison, you may also see dogs! On this newest episode of Uncuffed, the Solano team goes inside a special dog training program, and shares what it’s like to do time with a four-legged companion.

Once you bond with that animal and that animal bonds with you, that's an association that I rank up there even higher than some relationships between humans because that love that that dog gives you is unconditional.
Bryan Mazza

This story was produced by Bryan Mazza with help from Ninna Gaensler-Debs, Kathy Novak, Andrew Stelzer, and sound designer Eric 'Maserati-E ' Abercrombie.

This piece was brought to you by the team at Uncuffed. Our work in prisons is supported by the California Arts Council, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and donations from listeners like you. The producers fact-check content to the best of their ability. Content is approved by an information officer.

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Learn more, sign up for Uncuffed news, and support the program at www.weareuncuffed.org

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An avid listener of radio, award winning podcaster, and published author, Bryan Mazza spends his time writing, teaching, and training service animals for those in need. A native of California, Mazza uses his experiences to help others and to shape his artistic perspective in his many endeavors in both radio and creative writing.
Brian “bf” Thames has published five non-fiction books while incarcerated over the last 30 years. A pending 6th book advocating self-reliance and better decision making in potentially dangerous encounters is on the way. Learning languages is an exciting pastime for him. He’s become reasonably fluent in French, conversational in Spanish, and learned ASL during the Covid-19 pandemic. His favorite animals are Great Danes, and any variation of parrots/parakeets. Acquiring general knowledge and education about the world and existence tends to make him giddy.
Born in 1991, Anthony Ivy has been incarcerated since 2011. He is positively motivated for chance, and lives a “struggle to success” lifestyle. He wears many hats, and aspires to be a personal trainer, podcaster, music engineer, and party planner/DJ.
Walter "Jay" Evans Jr. is from Palm Springs CA. Born in 1975, he has been imprisoned since 1995. During this term, he has written plays, acted in a Shakespeare class, and earned a paralegal certificate from The Blackstone Career Institute. His intent in working with Uncuffed is to learn as much as he can and take it into the free world. He has plans to earn a broadcast journalism degree, or take the bar exam. He has written model legislation, and is a contributor to the ACLU, Anti-Defamation League, and Initiate Justice.