The workshops are managed by inmate trainers, but with the support and involvement of outside
volunteer co-trainers. AVP workshops are typically two or three days in length, depending on the specific module. Both inmates, as well as outside trainers are volunteers, their qualifications being completion of all AVP modules in addition to the "train-the-trainer" workshop.
Participants start with the basic workshop, progress to the advanced, and from there to the adjunct modules which include Bias Awareness and Manly Awareness. The ethnographic study, completed in May of 2001 (Sloane 2001), suggested that AVP participants' behaviors were modified by their involvement in these workshops.
Prisons are essentially closed institutions. To all but the state employees who work in them, the prisoners confined in them and the officials who are permitted access, prisons are generally hidden from public view. Under special authority extended to the Correctional Association since 1846, members of its Prison Visiting Committee can enter prisons, interview inmates and staff, and communicate their findings and recommendations to state policymakers and the public. While the Correctional Association does not have authority to mandate change, it uses its knowledge of prison operations to advocate for reform to those who do have that authority.
Based on observations of the Correctional Association's Prison Visiting Committee from visits to 25 state correctional facilities conducted between March 1998 and October 2001, key problems and areas for reform based on conversations with hundreds of inmates and correctional staff are mentioned here and/or described in the individual prison reports:
- Youth Assistance Programs in which inmates and correction staff volunteer as counselors to at-risk youth from the community;
- The "Puppies Behind Bars" program, where inmates train puppies to become seeing-eye dogs;
- The piloting of an in-cell substance abuse treatment program for inmates in disciplinary confinement;
- Mandatory academic programming for inmates who read and/or have a math score below the ninth-grade level;
- Parenting programs featuring structured groups and parenting education classes;
- Family visitor centers at 36 facilities to provide inmate family members with a place to refresh themselves prior to entering the prison;
- The installation of Automatic Electronic Defibrillators in every state correctional facility;
- Aggression Replacement Therapy provided by trained inmate facilitators to help prisoners identify and control aggressive behavior; and
- Earned Eligibility and Merit Time programs, which reward certain nonviolent offenders who meet various program requirements with the possibility of early release.
Motivation levels at the start of the workshops