LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska prisons are seeking to decrease the likelihood of convicted criminals to reoffend by using a 12-step pathway to change inmates’ ways of decision-making and behavior.

Moral reconation therapy focuses on increasing moral reasoning, enhancing self-image, promoting a positive identity and potentially reducing returns to prison, the Lincoln Journal Star reported .

Teacher Amber Drake, who works with four inmates at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, said the program helps inmates self-reflect.

“It really digs in to who you are,” she said. “And so it kind of starts pulling apart those layers.”

Josafina Gonzalez, 36, is an inmate in the treatment program at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women in York. She’s on step 10, where participants recognize and work to eliminate unethical attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.

Gonzalez said she initially didn’t trust anyone. Nearing the program’s end, she said she can now trust and be honest with others and herself.

Gabriel Beavers, one of Drake’s students, is on the sixth step, in which participants learn to give back some of the things they feel they’ve taken from society. He said he has helped lay out the prison’s soccer field, chalked the lines and helped with games. He also cooks and serves as a volunteer at Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach.

Frank Ladig, another student, is on the last step, in which participants work on goals. He said that if his goals aren’t going the way he plans, it’s a setback and not a failure.

“These goals, looking at them, makes me realize that life isn’t that hard if you keep it under control,” he said. “That’s what (moral reconation therapy has) done, made me realize that I’m in control, that I choose the path I go down.”

Information from: Lincoln Journal Star,

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