The Washington Times-Herald

Local News

April 15, 2011

A RARE opportunity

WASHINGTON — This is a follow up to a June 2010 story on two men in the RARE program at Daviess County Security Center.

It’s easy for people to say they want to change, but until they’re ready to commit to it, it’s also easy to fail. Dave Davis and Billy Wagler are committed to changing their lives for the better, and they’re taking advantage of the tools available to them to improve their chances of success.

Wagler and Davis are inmates at the Daviess County Security Center, incarcerated on a variety of charges that all stem from drug use. Both men graduated in December from the department’s Resisting Addictions with Recovery and Education (RARE) program, a three-phase system focused on education, treatment and relapse prevention. They continue “after-care” meetings, participate in Bible study, attend church, and have been accepted into the work release program.

“The real test is going to be when we get out,” Davis said, adding that he intends to continue attending meetings once he’s released to help him stay clean.

Eliminating the bad influences from their lives also will be an important key to unlocking a trouble-free life. They said they know they can’t return to the same group of friends.

“It starts out small, and before you know it, you’re back doing the old things,” said Wagler, who’s been in trouble before. “If you think you can go back around those people, you’re wrong. You can’t be around them and stay out of trouble. The more you do what’s right, the better you feel, the better it goes.”

In the past, he said, he would’ve succumbed to his friends’ urging him to join them in illegal activities, but not anymore. Right now both men feel like they’re on the right track. Wagler has been working for Rescom since June 2010 doing maintenance work and has learned to weld. Davis has been in work release since September 2010.

“I work at Perdue in separation, where they grind turkey and prepare it to go to other departments,” Davis said, adding that he’s also learned some new skills. “I like my job. I work a 6:30 to 3:30 shift, so I just can’t wait to be able to get out and enjoy other things at home after work.

“My insurance kicks in next month. It’s an awesome feeling.”

Both men enjoy their jobs and co-workers so much they plan to stay with their employers after their release from jail. Davis said he’s met some “really good guys” at work, and Wagler said he’s part of a morning prayer group with some of his co-workers.

“I’m saving for my own place,” Wagler said. “I’ve never had my own place. I’ve been living out of a bag for ... I don’t know how long.”

As part of the work release program, participants get an hour and a half of “home time” after work. That taste of freedom is further motivation for Davis and Wagler to straighten out their lives.

“Time flies, but it’s awesome,” said Davis, who’s been at DCSC since May 2009 on a two-and-a-half-year sentence after a previous suspended sentence was revoked. He expects to be out in September.

Wagler has another year to year and a half left on his 18-year sentence, which had 12 years suspended. He’s been at DCSC for three years. During that time, he’s worked on his relationship with the Lord.

Previously, he explained, he said he loved the Lord, but he was just talking the talk. He said he could appear to follow society’s rules, but still cheat and lie and steal, which is not following His rules. Now he’s learned to walk the walk.

“I got a real spiritual awakening here,” Wagler said. “I’ve been putting Him first in all things, and something good is happening.”

He said he tries to teach the other inmates how to have a relationship with the Lord, and some are open to it, but others are not.

“Some guys don’t want to hear about faith,” he said. “Some hearts get so hard they can’t feel anymore.

“It’s a blessing to be able to do Bible study. The godly people are my heroes.”

He and Davis attend church services on Wednesday evenings and Sundays, and they go to Lighthouse twice a week. They’re building their faith and forming a bond with others who bring a positive influence to their lives.

Wagler maintains that those inmates who give back in some way are the ones who find peace for themselves and succeed when they’re released. And that’s what he intends to do.

“Some people have gotten out and not made it,” he said.

But using the tools they’ve picked up while at DCSD, such as good decision making and changing old thinking habits, Wagler and Davis are determined to succeed when it’s their turn to be released.

“When stuff comes up, you’ve got to capture that thinking and change it,” Wagler said.

Davis said he was in work release in 2003 and was getting high every day. This time, he has a different attitude.

“I have the desire this time, and RARE had a lot to do with it,” he said. “You do a lot of thinking about what you’re going to do with yourself.”

During his incarceration, he’s earned his GED, and he’s been thinking about continuing his education when he gets out.

“My family is proud of me,” Davis said. “They see a big change in me. I know I see a big change in me.”

Evett Arney, work release case manager, said offenders like Wagler and Davis more or less earn the privilege of being in work release through good behavior in their cell block and participation in programs like RARE.

“Work release has a process they go through,” she said. “We let the judge know if they’re eligible, and he decides — basically, the judge orders it.”

Participants can stay in the program until their sentence is served, but can lose the privilege if they have a dirty drug screen or are not where they’re supposed to be at any given time.

Arney said work release assists with job placement.

“Once they get a job, that’s their paycheck, and they pay work release $13 a day,” she said.

Currently, seven employers are participating. There’s capacity for 45 inmates in the program, but only 34 are in it at this time.

“We have people call for work release people because they know they’ll show up,” Arney said, explaining employer feedback is good. “For the most part, very few don’t get jobs.

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