On December 15th, the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility, a prison in Jackson, Michigan, held its second annual Continuing Community Charity Event organized by Chance for Life. Chance For Life is a non-profit organization that collaborates to provide Behavioral Modification and Life Skills Training to individuals incarcerated in local jails and Michigan Department of Corrections prisons. Its vision is to "Transform Minds, Change Hearts, and Create Safe Communities" by giving prisoners an opportunity to develop themselves in a positive manner in spite of the adverse conditions of confinement. The goal is to encourage persons incarcerated to redefine their lives by setting and pursuing positive goals.
As part of the Chance for Life program, prisoners are asked to select non-profits in their communities to give back to. Over the course of the past twelve months, prisoner donations to all chosen organizations totaled $81,850.93.
The Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Program received a check for $3,500.
“The prisoners picked the Prechter Program to donate to because they are aware of the prevalence of bipolar disorder both in the community and in the prison population. They are trying to raise awareness to this disorder and educate the population on how to recognize and deal with those diagnosed,” said Christine McCumber-Hemry, Grievance Coordinator at the Cotton Correctional Facility, who also runs Chance For Life. “The money comes from the Prisoner Benefit Fund, which is funded from store purchases, vending machines, photo tickets for visits, etc. The prisoners can choose to spend this money however they would like. They can spend it on themselves to buy recreation equipment, weight pit equipment, food items, and so on, but instead they choose to donate to worthy causes such as the Prechter Program. They feel that although incarcerated, it is still important to give back to their communities.”
“We are very humbled by the generosity of the prisoners and their desire to help advance research into bipolar disorder, a common problem among the prison population,” says Melvin McInnis, M.D., the research director for the Prechter Program. “Overall, approximately 20% of inmates in jails and 15% of inmates in state prisons are now estimated to have a serious mental illness. The drive these prisoners have to support our research efforts is admirable. Every dollar raised makes a difference in the fight against mental illness and we are grateful for this support.”