A Commitment to Changing Lives at the Marana Facility

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Serving 513 residents with a staff of 91, last year Arizona State Prison-Marana completed nearly 600,000 hours of effective programming and engagement activities. That’s quite remarkable, and it’s accomplished through dedicated staff members, both programming and security, who are committed to the mission of the facility.

Miguel Chinchillas is an instructor/counselor.

“It’s true that I teach them things to counsel why they committed their errors, why they committed that mistake,” he says. “to help them prepare, so that when they re-enter society, they know how to live a social life, so they can have a joyful family life, so they can return to their fathers, return to their mothers, their children, their spouse, with everybody.”

Well over 30 programs are available for residents. And leaders of the facility are open to adding more.

“There’s programming, of course,” explains resident Israel Reynoso, “not only just the programming that is planned and put in by MTC, or what not, but there’s also inmate-led programs. They’ve given us the ability to create our own programming for things like the art program that we want to get involved with, something that’s going to be a productive means to, I guess, reduce recidivism and stop [them] from coming back into these places. So, it really is a matter, I think, of how you choose to spend your time when you’re in here. And we have all those options here.”

Lester Gill III re-discovered a love of painting through the variety of opportunities the facility has made available for those residents who wish to participate.

“I got here, they offered me to paint,” says Lester. “Everywhere, murals, classrooms, just for the food bank. I didn’t do that when I was just sitting at home on the ‘outs’. I was not really using it. Now I’m learning I can go somewhere with it.”

The approach to teaching by Robin Abrams-Ryan is consistent with the MTC BIONIC slogan, Believe It Or Not I Care.

“And it’s funny how I sit there, and I believe that. Because I really do care. And I let the inmates know I care. I let staff know I care. And if I didn’t care, I probably shouldn’t be here.”

“They were living a life where they made mistakes and committed crimes,” states Mr. Chinchillas, “but they come into the class with us and understand the beauty of what can happen in their lives. And I have joy in that.”