Local Inmates Confront Their Past

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It's an in-custody Domestic Violence Treatment Program that's aimed at helping inmates cope with behavioral response in domestic situations.

So far, therapists have reached nearly 9,000 prisoners...and they believe they've made a significant impact on families dealing with domestic violence.

Inmates in the voluntary treatment program meet in groups, hoping to close the door on their violent pasts.

"You have people coming in here on formal domestic violence charges and then they roll back out into the community without necessarily acquiring any new skills or insights prior to being released," said Cornelius Sheehan Jr. LSW, CSWI, Domestic Violence Treatment Program Coordinator.

To keep that from happening, counselors teach the inmates how to self-soothe, de-stress and communicate with their partners. They talk about domestic violence and what it means...beyond the physical abuse.

"It's emotional, verbal, anytime we try to dominate the will of another person," said Inmate Chris Street.

The inmates say they've kept up with the Darren Mack case...and many of them admit they see a little bit of themselves in Mack. They also say the course has redirected their lives.

"You hear one guys story and it makes you understand that 'Hey, I was at that point. I could have been there easily.' You can feel his hurt, his pain," said Street.

"If he went about it a different way, I think he'd be out right now. His wife would still be alive and the kids would still have a mother and a father," said Inmate Jermaine Mitchell.

The inmates in the course are taught how to manage their anger when they're insulted or threatened, and how to deal with things they may perceive as personal attacks...without getting violent.

"My coping skills with others. I've perfected those skills," said Inmate Michael Craft.

"When I get out, hopefully this time for real, I am going to make a commitment and stick to it. Now I have the tools to use when I need them," said Inmate Edwin Gomez.

Some of the men are facing long prison sentences...others will be let back out in society in the next few years, maybe months. Counselors say that's why intervention is critical.

"In Nevada, over 80% of people go back to that domestic violence relationship where they came from, at some point," said Sheehan.

The Washoe County Sheriff says the program has been very successful. Since it started three years ago...the rate of inmates who are released from jail and then re-offend has dropped.

This not only saves tax dollars spent on inmates who are sent back through the County Jail system...but program coordinators also believe it has a huge impact on families that deal with domestic violence.

Coordinators say domestic violence cuts right through gender lines...and they also see a lot of women with serious domestic violence arrests and convictions.