New program using military-style training to teach inmates structure, respect

Brown is testing a new program with prisoners in the Chesterfield South dorm.

LEE COUNTY (WACH) --- Prisoners at Lee Correctional Institution are learning a new way of life from Lt. Jack Brown.

Brown has been a corrections officer for 17 years and was in the military for more than 20 years. He is heading up a new program that teaches inmates structure and respect, using the same techniques the military does.

"Majority of them say they want come out to get an education. Some of them say they were locked down for so long now they just want to make a change and that's basically what the program is a second chance unit," said Brown

Brown is testing the program with prisoners in the Chesterfield South dorm.

According to prison leaders, the dorm is home to some of the worst criminals in the state, it has been on lock down for more than four years.

In September, prisoners in Chesterfield South took a guard hostage.

Brown says in the short time he's been heading up the new program, he's seen big changes in the 32 men chosen to be part of it.

"Everybody wants to do something positive, and that's what I see with the morale; it's changed a lot. Now, it's reached out to the other dorms," said Brown.

"I don't believe in locking the door and throwing away the key, you need to provide these inmates with work and give them something to do," says warden Michael McCall.

Another program McCall created will have inmates planting and harvesting gardens. McCall says these programs can help change the way prisoners behave.

"A prisoner that wants to do right has the mindset of a free man," adds McCall.

"It makes me feel good to know we got the opportunity to get some of these guys that were lockdown to get an education again, because most of them that's what they want but they haven't had the opportunity until the program came around," said Brown.

Brown says to join the program, prisoners have to write an essay to the warden telling him why they should be part of the class. After reviewing the essays, McCall hand picks each memeber.