Editor's note: In Saturday's edition, The Brazil Times introduced readers to a new program offered by Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, Carlisle, Ind. CLIFF is a voluntary program to which inmates may apply. The goal is to help the convicted criminals deal with the pressures that led them to use drugs and stay clean when they return to society.
Reporter Edie Campe interviewed four participants in the program for this series.
Here is what they had to say:
Subject: Shawn Weddle, age 34
-What are your plans for when you get out of prison?
I plan on living in Terre Haute or Indianapolis, for job reasons. I think it would be wise to stay away from Brazil, because of the influences there -- I know everyone there.
I plan on surrounding myself with people who are clean, people who are not into dealing drugs or the bar scene. I'm over it.
Most of my family is in Brazil, so I probably won't go too far. I got schooling while I was here, went to Vincennes University. I got my building maintenance degree and I took beginning and advanced welding. I plan on using those skills. I don't think landing a good job will be too hard, even though I have a record.
This is the first time that I've got a grip on what I've been doing. I've wasted a lot of my life.
-What did you get arrested for?
Possession and I was on parole, so they revoked my parole, but I should be leaving in the summer, around August.
-What phase of the program are you in?
I am just now a phase two. I am the senior coordinator for the right side of the CLIFF unit. They keep me busy. I work with the counselors to help with paperwork, class scheduling, assigning jobs and organizing the community.
This is a first time for me being in a positive environment. It's like night and day from the general population in prison.
In this program the prison mentality is taken out of here. There is not only drug treatment in this program -- there is 12-step meetings. There are a lot of elective classes you can take, like anger management and parenting classes.
I took parenting classes. I don't have any kids, but I might meet someone with kids. It's a good thing.
We try to run it as a community and it stays pretty positive.
-So why did you write a letter to the editor of The Brazil Times?
I wanted to make the county aware of this program, for one.
Clay County is bad about meth. It's terrible. I've been in and out of the county on meth charges three times.
I was hoping that the courts would read it, prosecutors, judges, lawyers, just to make everyone aware of the program. If this guy has been in trouble for meth over and over, well, sentence him to come here, or make that part of his plea bargain. I am sure DOC would honor that and place him right on the list.
-How did you get involved with meth?
Friends. I was about 17. Then I quit for a while.
I was in the Army National Guard for three years, I was doing good. I had a good job and house. I should have stayed with the military. That's my fault.
Back then everyone was doing whatever. I got right back in the groove. I tried to become the dope dealer, that didn't work. Trying to be the man, trying to make all this easy money.
It's easier getting up and going to work every day than dealing with the stress. Everyone tells on everybody anymore, you can't do nothing without getting told on, so what's the point? I'm done with it.
I pray to God. This is my first attempt at an kind of treatment.
-When do you get arrested?
October of 2003.
-Do you think it will be easy to stay away from the tempting situations?
My family is very supportive. I don't want to go back to Brazil.
I think it is easy to say one thing while you're in here than when you get out. It's a totally different ball game.
I think if I stay in a positive environment over time it will get easier. You can learn one life, you can learn another. It's just like I lost sight for a long time. This is my first attempt at trying to change. Everyone has a job in this community. Out in population, I don't see how a guy can get rehabilitated, especially if he is a repeat offender.
Prison is like a college for criminals. I learned how to make meth in prison, I had a bunkee one time who was a safe cracker. He wanted to teach me how to crack a safe. You just learn a lot of criminal stuff.
Here in this community, you don't hear people talk like that. It's all about change. I can honestly say for the first time in years, I am back on track.