DOC Parole officers help offenders turn their lives around - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

DOC Parole officers help offenders turn their lives around

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YAKIMA, Wash- The Department of Corrections is also on the legislature's chopping block.  The worst-case scenario would completely cut the community corrections program, otherwise known as parole officers.

You've probably seen them around, you just didn't notice.  They on the other hand are always watching...a branch of law enforcement you don't often hear about.

"We do it in unmarked cars, in plain clothes, so our presence is not really visible", says Ron Pederson, Field Administrator for the Community Corrections program.

They're Community Corrections, otherwise known as parole officers in charge of keeping an eye on the hundreds of Yakima residents recently released from prison. 

"Checking on them to make sure they're living where they're supposed to be living, doing what they're supposed to be doing", says Pederson.

Officers start off their day checking their caseload to see who's due for a surprise visit... checking on everything from an offender's employment search to parole violations.

As part of their monitoring, many parolees take part in treatment programs to help them fit back into the community like chemical dependency and anger management.

"When they're finished we turn out a better offender", say Pederson.

Community Corrections considers James Schnaidt one of their success stories. 

"I've learned to how to make goals and to take steps to achieve those goals", says Schnaidt.

He's had about 50 convictions over nearly 20 years for drug related offenses, but he's been clean for 23 months and has used doc programs to get his life back.

"I feel really good about my accomplishments it's more than I've ever accomplished in my whole life he says.

As of his court date last Tuesday James has finished the drug offender programs and is now off doc supervision. He plans to start at Perry Tech next year.