The Utah Department of Corrections' mission is to protect public safety while helping offenders transform their lives. Often, our successes go unheralded.
The stories below highlight some of the offenders who have changed their lives and rejoined our communities as law-abiding residents. These are the men and women who have not let themselves be defined by mistakes and bad decisions. They worked hard to get back on track and we were there to help them. Celebrate their accomplishments with us!
If you or someone you know has has been able to get their lives back on after spending time in prison and/or under the supervision of Adult Probation and Parole, feel free to contact us and share your experience. We are happy to pass along positive comments to staff and, with your permission, share your story with the public.
This link will take you to a form that allows to share your story to whatever level you feel comfortable. We do ask for an offender number so we can verify some details since this link is open to the general public. Thank you for your consideration.
This link will take you to a video that features Tina Cabral as she describes how she found a winning path to a successful life while in prison — a message Tina now shares with others who have been involved in the criminal justice system.
I have been in and out of trouble for as long as I could remember. I didn't know there was another life besides drugs, jail and on the run. I thought this time was going to be the same for me. Inside I wanted to change and learn to cope with the pain instead of burying and numbing it out. I lost my children, mother and almost my whole family.
Gina Dockery, my second probation officer, gave me a couple chances. I got two dirty ua's [urine analyses] for heroin in a row. I was honest with her and she say something to me that I will never forget: "You are a walking overdose waiting to happen and then where will that leave your family? Without a mother and a sister/daughter?"
I never realized until then the effect that I have on my family. Never really cared up to that point. I got transferred to Tad Johnson. He has worked with me. I was still on the streets and I was a mess. He told me he knew I could do it if I put the effort into in and he was giving me two weeks to come up with a clean ua. I have been sober since May 27, 2014. To some that's nothing but to me it's everything. Al, our group psychologist, has taught me a different allegory — to look at treatment differently. Mike Mills is my therapist and he has me question my beliefs about how I look at myself. I'm so glad that I was given the chance to grow as a person and to succeed as an individual. Thank you, TRC (Treatment Resource Center in Provo).
For most of my young adult life and until within the last two years, I was on the run from warrants, on drugs, fighting the legal system and very angry at every and anyone of any leadership.
My downward spiral began with a very unfortunate and devastating tradgedy. I was involved in a capitol murder case and was the attempted homicide victim. Until last July, I was unaware of many of the circumstances of this crime. An innocent man was beaten and thus began a retaliation.
I was unaware of the beating and was not even told about it by a friend of mine who inflicted the beating on this man, thus leading me right into danger and retaliation. I was pulled into a home along with my friend, who was shot in the head and killed about an hour and a half after his attempt to stop the shooter, who then turned to me and opened fire at me from 30 feet away with a 40 caliber hollow point firearm. I was hit eight times and did not ever lose consciousness or sight of my surroundings but immediately had a calm awareness of death and that I might never see my family again.
It is so easy to get caught up in a situation you may not even be aware is going on around you. It is so true that we should listen to our conscious and maintain healthy relationships only with those we trust with our lives.
Please, if I help one person it will be enough. Do not give in to peer pressure or assume that a situation is always what you think it is.
Kelly J. Piccirillo:
I entered the prison system in 2005. While in Receiving & Orientation I was told that I might be sent to the Hope program in Gunnison. When I arrived there, I told myself what in the heck is this?
In the beginning Polly Martinez was the Section A, L.S.A.C. I really didn't know what to think about what I was getting in to. So I just observed how and what they were trying to teach me. As time passed and I started on my assignments it click in. It was really hard for me in the beginning because I wasn't used to a place like this — somebody making a call on me for just leaving something in the shower or my tissue paper by the toilet. Punishment was community service hours and a L.E. (Learning Experience). I thought to myself what the hell?
But it was all about awareness and perception — to always be aware of your surroundings. As time went on, it all started to become clearer on the whole jist of it all. When you start to deal with your inner emotions you start realizing why you do the things you do. And you come to find your character defects. If you were in there for drugs or such, you find out your drug of choice. With me, meth is why I was in there. But that wasn't my drug of choice. As you work on yourself things start coming together. My drug of choice was acceptance. How funny does that sound. It all stemmed from my childhood, because I didn't get the love from my parents that a normal child gets in a family. And don't get me wrong — it is a very tough program. However, the program is set the way that it is for a reason because it makes you really think. It's like I mentioned in this statement — it's all about keeping your focus on things and being aware of your surroundings, and to look at the way others see things.
I graduated as a level 5 with all the privledges. If you are headed to prison and really want to change your life I recommend this program. If you are going into it just cause you are looking for a time cut in your sentence, you will struggle because of resistance. But if you are truly wanting change in your life, you will step out a different person in the way you look at things in life. And know with every action there is a consequence to follow, be it good or bad.
HOPE changed my life to the right direction. I graduated from the program and was released from prison in 2007. The change the program gave me let me soar in my life and make decisions in a clearer manner, with a problem-solving technique that works every single time.
I thank the staff in this program for giving me the direction and the ability to look at things in another way than others may perceive a situation. Brandon Burr, who is the founder of this program, along with Paul McGarry, licensed therapist, knew what they were up against with the people addicted to a substance. You can't BS them because in their line of business they have truly heard it all, and they will call you on it.
When I finished the program, halfway through it one of the Correctional Officers truly wanted to help the people succeed, so she became an L.S.A.C. and this lady was good in what she was doing. She was very down to earth if you were acting down to earth, and she knew when a more stern approach was needed. My hat goes off to her because all of her insight has made me look at things differently, which truly changed my thinking and life around. Her name is Carter. My life is going so great, I have never lived life as I am today — totally drug free and loving every minute of it. I send out my deepest, deepest thanks to all the staff who guided me in the direction that I needed to go. Thanks HOPE staff very much.