Teen inmates care for dogs at Rikers Island

Teen inmates are training and taking care of dogs behind bars.

- Teen inmates are training and taking care of dogs behind bars. Officials at Rikers Island say the program is working.

Behind the intimidating jail perimeter, something unusual is happening inside the building called RNDC. It's the temporary home of about 180 16- and 17-year-olds who have been arrested and can't make bail but have not been convicted or sentenced.

Lenny is a Rhodesian ridgeback and plott hound mix. He is a rescue dog from the North Shore Animal League given loving care by this handpicked group of teen inmates. For legal reasons we cannot show their faces. They're taught by a professional dog trainer.

Lenny lives with the group. The teens are completely responsible for all aspects of his care: from feeding and washing him, to walking him in the yard, learning responsibility and self-discipline.

Correction Department Deputy Commissioner Winette Jackson says she sees positive changes in the teen participants on many levels. The deputy commissioner says this program has benefits beyond the barbed wire fences of this jail. Since the program started, there have been no major violent incidents with participants. Eight of the dogs the teens have trained have found permanent homes.

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