When we asked our clients how they managed to stay out of trouble in prison long enough to be granted parole, their response is almost always something along the lines of "I just hit the gym, developed a strict daily routine, stayed off drugs and stayed out of the politics". For these people, when they eventually leave prison on a parole order, they often talk about the social anxiety associated with going to unfamiliar surroundings or public spaces, with comments such as "yeah i freak out a bit in shopping centres". Unfamiliar situations involving groups of people can traditionally be very dangerous for a prison inmate, and therefore understandably anxiety inducing when they get out... Parole for most people is one of life's major crossroads. "Beat parole" and get a second chance at life; "breach parole" and sink further into the systemic cycle of crime. The Pumped for Parole program has been designed to assist parolees overcome the psychological barriers of life on the outside through an exercise and group therapy program. Exercise is proven to be a more effective method of reducing both anxiety and depression than anti-depressants. But exercise alone wont solve the other major problem associated with parole - social isolation. Loneliness and social isolation also exacerbate depression and anxiety, and it is documented that the more frequently someone has a meaningful social interaction, the less likely the person is to experience uncontrollable anger - as part of the flight/fight response. The Program will therefore combine group exercise with a qualified personal trainer (also an ex-offender), followed by group therapy sessions to set goals and create a culture of accountability as well as individual counselling. Participants will be taught the physical and neurological benefits of socializing, exercise, education, diet and sleep. Together these elements will increase the likelihood of participants successfully completing parole and reduce recidivism.
Funded by Melbourne (July 2016)