New DWI rehabilitation program in Rusk County graduates first class

State officials hope a new recovery program started for Rusk County inmates will give those who've been convicted of multiple DWI offenses a chance to lead productive lives and never be a danger on roadways again.

KLTV 7's Bob Hallmark has more on an in-prison DWI recovery program and its first ever graduating class.

All of these men have been charged at least 3 times for DWI. Because of that, they completed a prison recovery program at an east Texas treatment facility.

After 6 months of counseling and therapy, they graduated today.

"I had to look back at my past, at what I have done, the things that brought me here today," said Glenn Henry.

Many reflected on their actions - how it affected them and what it cost them.

"During this time we hope a light is turned on that sparks something inside of them and ignites a desire to change and to better their lives," said Leonard Ward, the program director.

"It gave me a good understanding of the mistakes in the past and an opportunity to think about my future and the good things in my future," said Rene Barreras.

"I hurt myself and I hurt my family. Just because you don't have an accident doesn't mean you're not hurting. Coming to prison itself is a harm to your family, your kids," said John Broom, who's serving a five year sentence.

TDC selected these men for the first program, and for many it's a chance to atone for past mistakes.

"So many small and large things we take for granted, and we've still got time," said Travis Tindle, who's serving a seven year sentence.

Many will stay in prison to finish their sentences, while others will be released to resume their lives.

But all hope the program will make a difference.

"We need to grasp the second chance we've got and go with it."

157 inmates graduated in Today's ceremony. We're told those serving lengthy sentences will have this graduation taken into account when they come up for parole.

Bob Hallmark, reporting. bhallmark@kltv.com