Coyote Ridge Redemption? New program reduces violence in prison

Coyote Ridge Redemption? New program reduces violence in prison
CONNELL, Wash. -- A new program implemented almost 10 months ago has helped reduce the number of violent outbreaks at Coyote Ridge Correctional.

KEPR got a first hand look at how a new program is reducing violence at Coyote Ridge Correctional.

The new method began almost a year ago and since then, the number of violent incidents in each test pod has dropped dramatically.

Violence and prisons can go hand in hand, but Coyote Ridge set out to change that.

The test program begin last April with 50 inmates -- including Ronne Stombaugh. He's in for burglary, weapons and assault charges.

"I was a skeptic at first, but I think I came away with a few tools I'm gonna use in my future."

Ronne became the class speaker for those graduating from the "thinking for a change" program.

It's known as T4C among inmates. It encourages them to change their reactions to problems. Using their heads and not their hands.

Associate Superintendent Andrew Sawyer said, "50 percent of these guys will go back to prison if we didn't intervene -- we're not interested in that."

T4C puts inmates through classes and exercises that promote positive behavior.

"We learn to negotiate. Active listening. That involves when someone is talking to you, look at the person, think about what they're saying," Ronne says.

Since T4C came into use in the test pod, there have been 10 violent infractions.

Compare that to 40 in a neighboring pod.

Prison officials officials are already pleased with the results. And even with many years left on their sentences, inmates are focused on using skills to change their ways.

Inmate Kelvin McCauley says, "If I don't learn something and try and different way, I'm gonna continue to come back-- and that's the best thing I've learned, that that's the truth."

And that truth is creating peace within prison walls.

The T4C program was also used at Airway Heights Correctional in Spokane.

That facility has also seen dramatic results with violent incidents dropping by 70 percent in the last ten months.