Prison SMART has achieved remarkable success in Denmark. More than 2.000 prisoners and ex-prisoners have followed the training since the year 2000. Prisons which organize Prison SMART include Nyborg State Prison, Herstedvester Prison and Uridslose State Prison. In the State Prison of Horserod around 500 inmates have participated in Prison SMART through the 8 courses that it organises each year since 2001. Apart from prisoners and ex-prisoners, the trainings are also conducted with drug addicts, juvenile delinquents, therapists, social workers, prison staff and private clients.
The efficiency of the courses is recognised by many official institutions and organisations in Denmark, which have experienced that Prison / Breathe SMART works complementary to their own efforts. Since 2008, Prison SMART has been part of the special program under the Danish Prison and Probation Service for trial release. Participation in the Prison / Breathe SMART program is sometimes one of the conditions to be fulfilled for conditional release of convicts instead of serving a prison sentence. Cooperation is also established with institutions of the criminal judicial care system for youth, such as Engelsborg, and with the Probation Department for Community Service. The city of Copenhagen occasionally finances the Breathe SMART courses for people who want to drop out of drug abuse. The Prison and Probation Department of the Ministry of Justice has financially supported the Breathe SMART program for ex-prisoners.
One of the driving forces behind the Prison / Breathe SMART program in Denmark is Jakob Lund, who has a personal experience of drugs and violence. Jacob dedicates his life to helping some of the world’s toughest criminals for whom violence has become their whole identity as well as their strategy in order to obtain respect and acknowledgement. “One of the big problems is that when you put people in prison, they come out even angrier. I personally don’t care whether they have killed somebody or have stolen a bike. I focus on their potential – not on what they did, but on what they do,” he says.
Many participants continue of their own free will to follow the courses Jakob and his team give a couple of times per week in Copenhagen, where sometimes up to 80 people gather. The training has become very popular in the criminal circles in Copenhagen. Some of the ex-prisoners have also become Prison / Breathe SMART trainers themselves and set up social awareness and prevention campaigns on drugs and crime. Many participants have stopped taking drugs and have gone off anti-depressors after following the Prison/Breathe SMART program. Ex-prisoners find a place where they can come home and where they are accepted with their past experience. It is an important assurance for them to know that they can always come in case of need. They can build up a new social network, so that they do not have to return to old friends with destructive influences, and work on finding a job in cooperation with other agencies.