Prison Culture Change Initiative

Bringing international best practices in public health to change the culture in US prisons

Current Projects

Norway Partnership

The Norwegian Correctional Service is considered the most humane, health-focused prison service in the world. The long-standing partnership between Amend and the Norwegian Directorate of Correctional Service (KDI) provides immersive training programs and technical assistance to U.S. prison staff and leaders. Trainings draw on and adapt dignity-driven and public health-oriented correctional practices from Norway and elsewhere to inspire immediate changes in U.S. prisons that improve the health and well-being of people who live and work there. The partnership has received international attention and has engendered significant change to prisons across multiple U.S. states.

Read more about how this partnership inspires innovative best practices in the US.

US Partner Sites

Demonstration Projects                          

Custody-led projects in US prisons that model a radically different approach to correctional practice

Normalization [need photo]

Normalization means that life inside prison should resemble life outside of prison as much as possible. A more normal environment and daily life better prepares people for reentry and helps makes sure that the prison environment is not harmful to the people who work there. Under this principle, each incarcerated person serves their sentence at the lowest possible security level, and everyone works to make prison as healthy and supportive as it can be. Normalization can cover anything from improvements to the living and working environment to creating innovative programs in which incarcerated individuals can practice being a positive, responsible member of their community.

Amend-trained staff and leaders at Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW) have taken significant steps to implement this international best practice of normalization. Read more about how this women’s facility has incorporated the core Amend principle of normalization into its daily work with prison residents.

The Resource Team [need photo]

Research shows that long-term isolation is harmful and ineffective – it doesn’t support behavior change – and that working in segregation units takes a unique toll on staff’s physical and mental health. The Resource Team approach empowers uniformed staff to constructively work with the highest-risk, highest-need incarcerated individuals to increase time-out-of-cell. The Resource Team’s goal is to support incarcerated individuals who have been placed in restrictive housing to live safely and successfully at as low a security level as possible – and to engage in prosocial activities while pursuing that goal.

Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) is the first institution in California to work with Amend on launching a Resource Team. Watch a video that introduces the SVSP Resource Team model here.

“Cell to Cell” International Exchange Project

Stafford Creek Correctional Center (SCCC) in Washington State launched the first Amend “Cell to Cell” project, described here, which provides opportunities for incarcerated persons in Washington and in Norway to engage in conversation via an online videoconferencing platform, mirroring exchanges that Amend leads between correctional officers across the two sites. More “Cell to Cell” projects are being developed in other facilities in Norway and the US.