Inmates trying for a comeback

Inmates trying for a comeback
TRI-CITIES, Wash. - We first covered the Tri-Cities Work Release program a year ago and introduced you to a young man who was being released and looking to the future.

We wanted to see what happened to Alex Bennett since our story but it turns out he's back in jail. Cameras aren't allowed for jailhouse interviews in Benton County.

Proof positive that not everyone makes good use of the opportunity they're given.

KEPR looked at how the Tri-Cities Work Release program will still keep offering that second chance.

"This isn't the lifestyle for me." Words that go through Michael Yeager's head everyday. At just 19, he's fresh out of Coyote Ridge after serving time for drugs.

"One thing that prison did do for me was re-evaluate my situation, kinda take a step back. Before, I was kinda on the fast lane, always partying, drinking, that was the most important thing to me," he said.

Now landing a job is Michael's top priority. It's a prime condition of his role in the Tri-Cities Work Release Program. Michael's hitting the streets to pave the way for his future.

Offenders are responsible for supporting themselves. Rent and personal expenses are only covered temporarily. Michael got a few bucks and a bus pass to get started. The rest is up to him.

Michael must prove he searched for at least 45 jobs in a week.
His most promising lead of the day, Round Table Pizza. The manager wasn't turned off by Michael's criminal history.

Nick Chapin, manager said, "What I've seen before is people that are wanting to prove themselves, that they can comeback into society."

Once Michael gets work, the state will post a $25,000 bond. It's insurance for employers willing to take a chance on an ex-con.

Not every offender makes the cut. They have to go through multiple screenings. Michael considers himself lucky. He knows not everyone has graduated from the work release program successfully.

Michael continues, "I've seen all the people in prison you know, how their lives have turned out. It's kind of a wide-awakening."

Michael promises he'll stick to the rules. If not, he risks going back to prison.

" I have plans to keep me out of trouble," he said.

Off drugs and on to a new life.

Michael will be in a halfway house for about four months. Then, on probation for two years.

Housing inmates in this program is $30 a day cheaper than keeping them behind bars.

No violent or sexual offenders are allowed in.