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October 21, 2009

CLIFF course works to keep inmates from returning

Wabash Valley facility one of three offering program

CARLISLE — Thinking positively for a change is just one of the concepts Turner Corn learned in prison. It helped him turn his life around from a drug addict to a law-abiding businessman.

After three successful years in society, Corn felt it was time to return to the facility where he turned that corner, and share his story with the staff and advisory committee at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle.

“I just wanted to let you know the program does work,” Corn said of the CLIFF methamphetamine treatment program at the facility.

He was in the first group of graduates of CLIFF, or Clean Lifestyle is Freedom Forever, in 2005. The six- to nine-month program involves group counseling, individual and peer classes, recovery-based groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, and other electives such as the faith-based Purpose Driven Life program that offenders can do on their own.

Wabash Valley Correctional Facility is one of three state prisons offering the program. The future plan of the Department of Correction is to move CLIFF from the maximum security facility to the medium security facility at Putnamville, partially because most of the CLIFF offenders are medium security, and partially to free up beds in the maximum facility prison at Carlisle.

Part of the Department of Correction philosophy, said facility Superintendent James Basinger, is for offenders to have meaningful incarceration.

The recidivism for offenders who complete the program is lower than those who do not get any treatment, Baysinger said.

“They’re really successful,” he said of those people released back into society after completing the program.

A good example of that is Corn, who said he first started using drugs around age 16, and is now 42. He did his first prison term in 1990, and his first meth charge came in 2001. By 2003 he was on his way into the Department of Correction for the fourth time, looking at an eight-year sentence.

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