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“Anger is a second emotion”

There’s a fascinating piece in the Huffington Post about a programme in Californian prisons that aims to cut the reoffending rate. Its focus? Toxic masculinity.

The former inmate is a facilitator of a prison rehabilitation program that teaches men about gender roles and how ingrained ideas of masculinity have contributed to their violent crimes. GRIP, or Guiding Rage into Power, started at San Quentin State Prison in 2013 and has expanded to five state prisons across California.

The programme works on a simple assumption: criminal behaviour, especially violent behaviour, is often the result of trauma.

This bit really jumped out at me.

“Anger is a second emotion. Fear, shame or sadness are underneath it. Violence is learned. No one is born armed and dangerous. We can unlearn it.”

Does the programme work? One-third of the programme’s graduates have been out on parole and only one inmate has returned. California’s usual rate of recidivism is 65%.