Posted at: 12/11/2012 6:16 PM
They've spent nearly every minute together for the past 6 months. But now, about two dozen men who participated in the Challenge Incarceration Program at Willow River have graduated. They are home with their families for the holidays.
CIP is like a boot camp, with military haircuts and protocols. Men go through education classes, chemical dependency programs, physical training, and other programs to help them improve their lives.
On Tuesday, they received certificates and handshakes for making it through. They also were able to share what has made such a difference in their lives. Many said the chemical dependency and restorative justice programs were very significant.
Non-violent offenders can volunteer and qualify for the CIP. Graduation ceremonies like Tuesdays happen once a month.
Families joined the men at the gymnasium at the camp. They hugged the men proudly, and say the timing couldn't be better with the holidays.
"He's my present right here. I've got a real big meal waiting for him when he gets home," said Patricia McKinney, of her son Frederick.
Graduates told us they are proud to have gone through such a rigorous program, and are excited to move on to the next level.
"It's not over," said Ted Spangler.
In fact, all of the men are required to follow a strict schedule, as part of their intensive supervision.
The Dept. of Corrections just celebrated 20 years of success at CIP this past summer.