KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) - A Kalamazoo County Jail program is expanding as it proves it can keep inmates from returning to the slammer. Inmates say the program works because it gets to the core of what's causing them to get locked up.
The Kalamazoo County Jail has had overcrowding problems for years. The goal of the Life Principles program is to fix that problem by decreasing crime and recidivism, saving taxpayers' money.
The inmates, who 24 Hour News 8 was asked not to identify, say it's changing their lives.
B West 7 and 8 is known as the Life Principles Pod. Pastor McNelly is one of the instructors of Life Principles, a Bible-based program that teaches inmates skills to correct bad behaviors.
"Today we talked about grounding and staying grounded when your in stressful or emotional situations," McNally said.
All the men in the program are there voluntarily. They attend four-hour classes five days a week.
"There's a set of rules. There's conducts they have to follow," said McNally.
In the six months the program has been running, 41 inmates have participated. Twenty-nine have stayed out of jail. Two have come back and 10 gone on to prison.
It costs about $40 a day to house someone in the jail, so the program has already saved $5,000 in taxpayer money.
One inmate in the program said he joined because he was ready for a change.
"Just to try something different," he said. "I've been in and out of prison my whole life I'm tired of disappointing the people that have never disappointed me."
He said he has tried to stay out of jail on his own, but it hasn't worked. Other inmates agreed.
"This program has opened my eyes," said another inmate. "I believe this program will stop me from coming back."
Tim Colton is a graduate of the program. He has been in jail more than 100 times, but for the first time in his life he is clean and confident he won't be going back.
"It's all coming together and it all stems from this program," he said.
Maybe the reason the program works so well is because the man who runs it was once on the other side of the bars.
"It's kind of ironic. This was my cell," said McNally.
In the last month, the program has expanded to the women's jail. Kalamazoo County hopes to expand it further in the men's jail.
Currently, the program can serve only 12 inmates at a time.
A memorial marker was unveiled for three young siblings who died in an apartment fire 10 months ago.
Battle Creek Police are investigating a fight caught on camera inside a middle school locker room.
A special surprise in Kalamazoo as a famous native, and New York City sports star, handed out gifts to hundreds of local kids Thursday night.