Inmates care for cats behind bars

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PENDLETON, IN - A different kind of perpetrator is settling in behind the walls of a maximum security prison in Indiana. A new program is placing stray cats under the care of inmates. Maleah Stringer, the director of the Animal Protection League, says,  "This makes perfect sense because we have untapped man-power in the prison system, we might as well use it. So we can save these cats and the offenders get the benefits as well."

Five lucky convicts were chosen to care for the felines and keep their enlosure clean. The offenders are grateful for the job. Inmate Barry Matlock says, "I've had not a calm past, so, you know, it's helped me calm down a lot, grow up and it just feels good to be able to help."

The goal is to get the cats out of crowded animal shelters where they would typically find themselves locked in cages. It is a concept not lost on the inmates. Inmate Lamar Hal says, "I deserve to be in prison. I committed a crime, but these animals they live like we live in the cell house, in these cages, and they don't deserve that."

Many of the cats, like the prisoners, have had a troubled past. now, the program is helping both parties get back to normal. Lamar Hal also said, "It instills a little bit of humanity back into me because I've been locked up for over seven years. These animals they help bring that back out." Maleah Stringer says, "I've had offenders tell me that when they got an animal it was the first time that they can remember that they were allowing themselves to care about something, pretty powerful statement."

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