KENNEWICK, Wash. - Benton County inmates are becoming stronger members of society through new re-assimilation programs along with the help of the community.
Inmate, Robert Holman, said the new group program in Benton County jail has helped him see his domestic violence sentence differently.
"It's changed my life already. I'm not looking at it as punishment I'm looking at it as an opportunity to correct myself," Benton County Jail Inmate Robert Holman said.
Benton County interim Sheriff, Jerry Hatcher, piloted the program, that gives qualified inmates who want to change an outlet for recovery through voluntary classes of their choice.
“There are different categories of classes, they have cognitive behavior change, developing healthy relationships, recovery classes," Interim Sheriff Jerry Hatcher said.
Retired teachers and councilors have also been lending a hand for mental health.
"150 volunteers have been coming that are willing to help us try to make a difference," Hatcher continued.
Volunteers have been doing their best to help inmates rebuild in a team environment.
"Which is probably why a lot of us wish we would have been able to take this class a long time ago earlier in our lives," another Benton County Inmate said.
$17,000 of leftover funds from the criminal justice tax are now being used to help fund textbooks for classes.
The program helps inmates earn their general education diploma and learn non-violent communication skills and the goal is to keep them out of jail for good.
"It gives us an opportunity to shift back into the communities and become these people that we want to be," another Benton County Inmate added.
The program also helps create a network of brothers for inmates to lean on for support when they leave so they can stay in a new direction.
"It makes me realize that a lot of us have to take our old self and our new self and shed into that skin,” Another Benton County Inmate continued.
Inmates have also gained a sense of companionship and it has changed the way inmates like Holman view jail time.
"I don't see it as an enclosed environment because of this opportunity that's being presented," Holman added.
Holman is using his sentence to change for the better and the group program is working toward the big picture.
"This is shedding light on that mental crisis in a huge way," Holman concluded.
Jerry Hatcher hopes to expand the program to the women's side of the Benton County Jail in the future.