Friday, April 15, 2011

Social Work students visit Creseo de Atacholoaya

Creseo de Atacholoaya
By: Carissa Rein
Winona State University

Social Work students received a tour of the Creseo de Atlacholoaya. The Creseo de Atlacholoaya is one of the main prisons in the state of Morelos. The Creseo consists of two prisons; one for women and one for men. The men’s prison contains 2,000 men. The women’s prison contains 200 women.  In each prison there are two different living quarters. One of the living quarters is for the inmates who have received their sentencing and the other is for inmates who are waiting to receive their sentence.

At Creseo there are many social workers that are available to work with the inmates, but of course there are not enough. The social workers job consists of working with the inmates and their families. While working with the inmates the social worker serves as a counselor. They help them while they are living in the prison because many of the inmates have a hard time transitioning to life in prison.

The social workers organize workshops that the inmates can participate in. The workshops available to the inmates consist of learning to work with yarn, fabric, wood, metals and more. After the inmates complete these workshops they create objects to sell. The inmates also have the option to work in a Maqilladora that is onsite at the prison. In this Maquilladora they make masks and hats for hospital personnel. Participating in the workshops and working around the prison will reduce the inmates’ sentencing time.

The social workers also, help the inmates enroll in school. The inmates have the ability to graduate from high school and even attend college while in the prison. Elementary and middle school education are free, but when they would like to attend high school, they are charged the same amount that they would be charged if they were going to a high school in the city.

This experience for me was very beneficial and informational. I have never really known what goes on inside a prison. Many people end up in prison because they were once mixed up in something that they shouldn’t have been. I believe society has shaped our view on the people we call “criminals” who occupy our jails and prisons. Some people have committed crimes in their life but that doesn’t mean that they are bad people.  People make mistakes, and I am the first one to agree with that.

It is amazing to me that the Cereos gives the inmates the opportunity to start their life over and create it how they would like. Whether that is creating objects to sell or graduating from high school. Both of these can be very beneficial to the life of the inmate once their sentence has ended.

From this experience I have began to think of a variety of different questions. For example, what beliefs do I/you hold about people who have been convicted of crimes and sentenced to time in prison? What does society have to do with how we view criminals? What do you think about the services offered to the inmates?


  1. Carissa,

    Thank you for the thoughtful blog post. I also agree that the visit to the Creseo was an eye opening new experience. Previously I have never known much about prisons and the criminal justice system. After this experience I would like to know more about the same system in the U.S. and the role of the social worker. I think there is a lot of hatred, discrimination, and misconceptions of criminals. There are many who find themselves in prison because of a mistake or a wrong conviction. But even those who may have broken a law or committed a crime, is this a reason to view them as any less of a person? As social workers we need to ensure they still have the best possible quality of life. Because many of the laws that wrongfully lead people to jail are unjust, this provides us with another reason to why social workers need to pay attention to policies and change in the system. I think society places a big role in how we view criminals. Many criminals are painted to be horrible, dangerous people, not worthy of our time or ‘tax dollars’. This pains me to hear, because I believe that these people may have made a mistake or been wrongfully convicted but still deserve fair treatment and quality of life.
    Thanks for the post, and the great questions!

  2. Carissa,

    Thank you for the great blog post about Creseo de Atacholoaya and the social workers involved, I also agree that it was a very educational experience. I also agree with you and Mallory that inmates to not deserve the discrimination and hatred for making mistakes.

    Your questions got me thinking on my own beliefs about people who have been convicted of crimes. Like you said, there are many times when prisoners have been wrongfully accused and convicted of crimes. This shows us the injustice in the prison system. Social workers can play an important role in this, such as treating the clients with respect, providing services and programs, and advocating for their clients. The programs we learned about with Cereos helped get prisoners on their feet, such as providing prisoners with education and a job. Providing education and a job within the prison can give the prisoners a sense of worth, which then in turn provides motivation.

    Thanks for the great work :)

  3. Carissa,
    Thank you so much for your post about Creseo de Atacholoaya. I find it so facisnating to learn about how other cultures handle things like incarceration. It is a positive thing that social workers are in the prison making services available to inmates. I think two of the programs you touched on are so vital in that prison. The first being the making of the hats and masks for the staff working at the prison. This allows the inmates to feel as though they are a positive part of the facility and that they are contributing something to their own small society. The second program that allows inmates to enroll in schooling speaks for itself.
    I think that education is so key in a prison. Like you said, many of these people dropped out of school or didn't have access to a quality education, and although education is not a quick fix to every problem, it is a huge part in facilitating positive change.
    Both of these programs incorporates something that I think about often. The ever-long debate about rehabilitation versus incarceration. Although these people are incarcerated, they are having free access to programs that in a way, rehabilitate them and allow them to positively grow and change.
    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. It makes me hopeful for even more changes to be made in corrections worldwide in the future.
    Lisa Diorio (Augsburg SWK 280)

  4. Carissa,

    I find this very interesting. I do agree with you that people make mistakes too. Sometimes I wonder to myself about the people in prison and I wonder how many of them are actually innocent.It's scary to know that many innocent people can be mistakenly or accuse of committing a crime. I agree with you too that we should not just base everything on one's mistakes and we should consider all the other factors within their life. one of my friend intern at an agency that works with people form jail. They help them find jobs and get back to the world. They help them to settle back into their lives. When she talks about her intern, it's very hard.It's just amazing how one's criminal history can affect every parts of their lives. But thanks for sharing this and I hope their will be more changes for our society in the near future.