Throughout our first year in 2013, we had 18 successful program completions. One year after completing the program, only one participating youth had reoffended. This proves the efficacy of our program and is the first step toward our goal to help lower the overall recidivism rate within the juvenile justice system in Texas.
The success stories and promising trends on lowering recidivism and decreasing the effects of health-compromising behaviors in at-risk youth called for a similar intervention/prevention program to be developed, which led to the creation of Run Free Texas.
Several groups focused on running and walking have been implemented in various places throughout the nation. One of them is the Running Free Program, whose members are incarcerated at the Topeka Correctional Facility. The program started in 2007 and strives to help female inmates learn to cope with the stressors of life and to ease their transition back to the outside world. Participants of the program had the opportunity to participate in a public health perspective project in 2011. Top-ranked benefits of the program are increased self-esteem, improved confidence, better self-discipline, increased goal-setting, and a lowering of the overall recidivism rate of the participants. Since the creation of Running Free in 2007, only one participant has returned to the prison system out of the approximately 200 who have been released. This is a recidivism rate of 0.5% within the participant population. A similar program was launched in January 2012 at the Hiland Mountain Women’s Correctional Center in Alaska as part of a research project to measure the impact of a structured running program on mental health. The data is still preliminary but an overall positive response to the program has been noticed.