Program at Coyote Ridge Hopes to Reduce Violent Behavior - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Program at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center Hopes to Reduce Violent Behavior

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CONNELL, Wash. --  A pilot program at Connell's Coyote Ridge Corrections Center hopes to reduce violent behavior among offenders.

In fact, today was graduation day for the new "Thinking for a Change" program.

Behind the doors of Coyote Ridge Correctional Center, offenders are participating in a brand-new program to help them manage their emotions.

 It started when offenders in the "B" pod of unit D were selected involuntarily to speak to counselors about ways to improve their behavior.

"In the thinking for a change program the offenders are organized by groups of ten and they are able to do demonstrations of active social skills and role playing activities," said Correctional Program Director Michelle Duncan.

The first graduating class includes 59 offenders who are all within 5 to 9 years of getting released.

"This...I never want to happen again.  If there's anything I can do to never come back here and get out there in society and be a contribution to the society; that's what I want to do," hopes Program Graduate Larry Ronnie-Stombaugh.

Counselors say the internal problems these offenders face are often much deeper than they appear on the surface.

"We know that the things under the iceberg, thoughts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs are all there under each of us, and you guys have learned that," said Program Counselor Vincent Robinson.

"A poor choice will automatically create a bad situation for you in the long run.  But if you stop and think about it and weigh your options, you have a better chance of avoiding that problem all together," believes Program Graduate Kelvin McCauley.

Since the program's inception in April 2012, pod B have only had 10 violent infractions whereas the neighboring pod had nearly 40 violent infractions.  

Now, Coyote Ridge plans to share their findings with other correctional institutes.  So it's safe to say that this is just the tip of the iceberg.