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Powerful victim impact class teaches inmates lesson in compassion

Monday, February 25, 2019

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla --Dawn Rodgers says she never intended to hurt anyone when she got behind the wheel of a car under the influence of drugs.

Her lapse in judgment resulted in a 15 year prison sentence and an innocent man losing a leg. According to Rodgers, “I have to say that was a scared straight moment. I’ll never use drugs again. I hear that man in my dreams. Every day when I go to lay down to sleep. I will never get high again.”

Rodgers, and dozens of other inmates at Kate Barnard Correctional Center are getting a lesson in compassion and consequences.

This seven week victim impact class helps these women understand there is no such thing as a “victimless crime.” Inmate, Jessica Norton said, “I always thought because I was an addict, I was only hurting myself. And it really shows me how I hurt so many people in my addiction. It was really selfish of me.”

They learn to stop peppering apologizes with excuses. Rodgers said, “I took this class so I could write the victim, Cody, a letter of apology. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt him. It wasn’t my plan.”

There are also powerful victim testimonials. Inmate, Abby Smith said, “We’ve gotten to watch videos of the families. You don’t really think of that when you’re the offender, the criminal.”

There are also raw, open discussions on everything from property crime to homicide. Instructor, Lillie Armstrong shared, “Look at the consequences. Actions affect so many other people.”

The class is voluntary, though students can earn time off their sentences for successfully completing the course.

More importantly – they’re gleaning skills to hold themselves accountable and learning to put others before themselves. Smith said, “It just makes you think a whole different way.”

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