New WEC programs are worth the effort

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The McCook Work Ethic Camp has had its struggles gaining acceptance within the state penal and political system over the years, but there are signs the facility is coming into its own.

Built with the purpose of giving its residents a new direction in life, the WEC is dedicated to the idea of rehabilitating offenders and inmates, rather than just providing confinement and punishment.

The latest new programs are a good step in that direction.

Most important, perhaps is the establishment of a panel to provide offenders with first-hand exposure to the effects of crime on its victims. The facility already offered classroom activities to address empathy, but no textbook or dry discussion can have the impact of looking into the eyes of someone who has suffered because of crime.

More mundane, but just as important, are other new efforts such as providing vocational training like welding or drywall, helping offenders learn to earn and budget, as well as exercise and play sports.

All are skills they need to learn once they're again given their freedom. All of us have to know, one way or another, how to earn a living, manage our personal finances, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

If the Work Ethic Camp succeeds in its goals in even a minority of those who go through the program, it will be well worth the investment.

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