Highlands Co. prison program turns inmates into servicemen

- Right now they're serving time; soon, they may be serving their country. The Highlands County jail is launching an innovative new program to encourage inmates with the potential to join the military. It's the first program of its kind in the state.

"If they have the heart and the ability and they want to serve our country, what greater good can they do?" commented Detention Deputy Scott Waldon.

Waldon joined the U.S. Marines when he was young and is now passionate about other guys improving their lives by serving in the military. Waldon has taken 20-year-old Shiglenn Butler, who is in jail on a battery charge, under his wing. Butler is going to be released in the next few months and hopes to go into the Army.

"I feel like it can change my life," Butler told FOX 13.

But to get into the military, you have to pass an entrance exam that covers English, math, and science. So Butler is at a computer terminal studying every day.

"They've got all the help [they need], but they have to want it," said Lt. Chris Rittenour.

The plan is to set up a halfway house so that after an inmate is released he doesn't have to go back on the streets. He will be able to stay there as he tries to get into the service.

The new program at the Highlands County Jail is one of the few in the country. Tennessee also has one.

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