OLYMPIA, Wash.— Lisa Savard remembers the moment she hit rock bottom.
“When I heard the length of my sentence,” said Savard, referring to 2009 when she learned she was being given a seven-year sentence for identity theft, forgery and bail jumping.
“I can remember the day I was sentenced like it was yesterday,” said Savard.
But five years later, Savard has a waitress job and gets to spend time with all four of her boys.
”It feels really good,” said Savard, one of the near-300 state inmates who got to spend the last year of their sentences outside of prison to work on being better parents.
She must attend parenting classes and has to pass routine drug tests.
Savard has to check in every week with a community corrections officer who tracks Savard’s movement with an ankle bracelet. If she makes any mistakes, she goes back to prison.
That’s something most of the program’s participants have not done, according to the Department of Corrections. On average, when a state inmate is released from prison, they have a 29 percent chance of returning.
Only around five percent of the parents who are released early under the Community Parenting Alternative re-offend.
The program started three years ago. It is only offered to parents who are not serving sentences for violent or sexual crimes. They can only have less than a year remaining on their sentences.