The Pre-release After Care Transition program in Montana started back in the 1990s as a way to help convicted individuals transition back into society through an intense "military-style" boot camp. Individuals in the program are referred to as "booters."
Graduates and current booters met yesterday at Black Eagle park for the biennial reunion. KBFF talked to supporters and they shared how support among booters is critical to a successful transition.
The sounds of support and comradery rang over the Missouri River Saturday.
Making these connections with former booters who have turned their lives around serves as an inspiration to others hoping to do the same.
Former booter Shawn Hertel explains--
"It's important for the booters that are going through it now to see that reassurance, it can be done.
Hertel says through this transition back into society it helps knowing you're not aloe in the process.
"Boot camp motto is the "courage to change." they have to make that choice to have that courage to change and leave their old life behind and start a new one."
Superintendent of the Treasure State Correctional Learning Center Micheal Buckley says the booter program works.
"Of those who have successfully navigated the program and entered the community we are sitting at an 82 % success rate."
He adds...for graduates of the program..a new felony offense rate is less than two percent.
"If you can visualize success, and you've seen others do it, and use the tools that they've learned through the program to make it out there, then they're going to have the courage to continue on and take those steps."
After meeting with former booters, feeling their support, and seeing their success...the road to change seems a bit easier to travel.