I’m writing this letter to promote the STRIVE program, a Department of Corrections-based program operating in the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison. STRIVE is an acronym that stands for Success Through Responsibility, Integrity, Values & Effort. Although it has been functioning since 2007, it is not accredited, as are other correction-based programs such as HOPE (Helping Offenders Parole Effectively)—also in Gunnison—[“HOPE: Prisoners police each other in Utah drug-rehab program,” Feb. 4, 2010, City Weekly] or the Conquest program in Draper.
It is recognized only as a means to manage a housing unit of 288 inmates in a dorm setting with minimal incident, but it is much more than that. If you can manage 288 inmates—from drug offenders to murderers to sex offenders—in one location without incident, why isn’t Utah eager to promote such an accomplishment?
I have seen the difference in the lives of inmates who have participated in STRIVE. They work on a 40-hours-per-week schedule, similar to the HOPE program, to improve themselves, others and the choices they make. Men who were possibly once feared in society are humbled by STRIVE principles. They are taught to take personal accountability, be responsible, have integrity and value life with the utmost effort they can put into it.
It is extremely difficult to live the prison life. Yet, these men, voluntarily, and in an act of saying, “Hey, I made a mistake,” or, “Hey, I’ve made a million of them,” work hard to change. They have hurt people and have been a detriment to society due to their lack of self-control, emotional insecurity and recklessness. Now, they move forward into self-governed behaviors and discipline to take that control back and get to know themselves outside of addictions or apprehensive, rebellious states of mind.
I don’t wish to condone the crimes that people have committed, but to give credit where it is due. When a man tries to change his life, any difference, however small, makes sense to me. At some point, these men will re-enter society, and I would much rather have them on a path of peace than of bitter resentment.