Justice Meets Education - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Justice Meets Education

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YAKIMA, Wash - What's working in Yakima to cut crime?  One approach is to reduce the number of re-offenders.  To get to that point, offenders need an education and a job.  The Yakima County Justice Center operates more than 20 educational programs for inmates.  In the last year six inmates earned their GED.

"Why I'm here.  What it really boils down to is I had a drug problem with "meth" and here I'm nine months down the road clean," says Shawn Murphy, the latest inmate to earn his GED.

Once he arrived in jail he got to work.

"I sat down with him one day and had a conversation about his life goals and found out he had not completed his GED yet.   So, I said one of the first things you need to do is finish that," explains Officer Terri Beernick.

And he did.  Murphy gives credit to Officer Beernink.

"I recognized right away that as far as I wanted to go with this, as serious as I was about it, she was to and that really inspired me," says Murphy.

But he did need help from everyone one on the jail staff.

"They're respectful, they'll ask you how you're doing, you walk by an officer 'how ya doing today Murph?' That makes a big difference some days," explains Murphy.

Murphy says he is participating in a family program because he hopes to see his 10-year-old son once released.  He eventually wants to give back what was given to him.

"I would like to see down the road, myself on the other side of it helping other people," says Murphy.

Murphy's will get out of jail in December of 2009.  Corrections officers are also looking into programs were inmates can earn an AA degree.

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