Intentional Peer Support Program used at the Nebraska State Penitentiary

Spreading hope behind prison walls and in the darkest places of restricted housing-that’s the goal of a new peer support program at the Nebraska State Penitentiary.

It allows inmates to help other inmates deal with substance abuse, mental health and other challenges. Many of the inmate volunteers are some the most notorious, hardened criminals behind the walls.

They are the first Nebraska prisoners to earn international certifications in the Intentional Peer Support Program.

“Peer support tries to look through lenses of hope and possibility,” Cook said.

The Department of Corrections partnered with the Mental Health Association of Nebraska.

Each inmate went through 80 hours of training. What makes Nebraska’s program unique is that it’s the first country to allow peers to talk with inmates locked up in segregation.

“This is a great day. This is truly a great day,” said Nebraska Department of Corrections director Scott Frakes.

“You have got something that has international recognition.”