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Ed's story: Drug treatment in prison

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Jim Peck (Producer): Ed Andersen is back in prison. He's in an intense drug treatment program, part of the therapeutic community at the parole and release center in Boise, Idaho.

Ed Andersen photoEd: I've done ten years plus in prison, and probably 5 years in county jails, in the last 20, 25 years.

Jim Peck: He's been using drugs for the past 25 years. He's been locked up in Oregon, California, and Idaho. He's down to his last two weeks in the program. Ed's been through other drug treatment programs; he says this one is different. It's peer-based. Inmates hold each other accountable for their behaviors, behaviors that keep them in their addictions, in trouble and, often, in prison. Honest, sometimes brutal, confrontations are part of life here.

Ed: Day in and day out having to stay on my toes and having to be accountable for my actions and it's non-stop and it's pretty stressful. It never lets up, not even down to the last two weeks.

Jim Peck: This time he's in for possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture meth. He's back in prison because of a parole violation. He and his wife were arrested and sent to prison, and it's not the first time.

Ed: We both did the same drug treatment, last time we did stay clean for 18 months and then after our parole obligations were let go then we . . . uh . . . relapsed within 6 weeks.

Jim Peck: He says he knows what he's done wrong in the past.

Ed Andersen in therapy meetingEd: The thing I thought about it last time was that I was just going to be able to go out there and I was fixed. I had a good job, I wasn't using, and the reality is I gotta go to meetings everyday and do certain things everyday to keep my recovery fresh.

Jim Peck: Complacency, he says, was one of his biggest problems.

Ed: I was just, went all the way from top of the hill to back to square one over night and it was just intensely sad for me to do that to myself and I can see where I went wrong.

Jim Peck: Ed says this time it's going to work. That this unique program has succeeded where others have failed.

Ed Andersen photoEd: We both get out on the same day and it's kinda sad that we've been separated this long. It kinda hurts. But this program has helped me a lot. I've got a lot of positive feelings about how it's gonna be this time. It's gonna be different. And that's only gonna happen because I'm gonna make it different.

Jim Peck: Things are a lot different on this side of the fence; it's night and day from the general prison population.

Ed: It's an aggressive place, only the strong survive and weak individuals get preyed upon on the yard, and over here you're allowed to share, deepest darkest secrets whatever. It promotes that kind of an environment for healing.

Jim Peck: It's two weeks later. Ed Andersen gets out tomorrow. He's still got about 2 ½ months left to serve after graduation, so it's on to a work center until his time is up. He's in one of his final group sessions. Last night, hard news from home. It's now part of the reality he faces on the eve of release.

Ed Andersen leaving prisonEd: What I got right now is my family out there on the streets is going through some adversity right now. My daughter, 17 years old, has been removed from her school and she's um, I think she's using, she's lost 22 pounds in the last couple of months. My wife who's also in prison -- we're both doing the same commitment to the department of corrections, for the same crime. And I'm having a problem with Katie going out like that -- she's 17 years old, she's an above-average student and it just kinda blows me out that it happened like that. We're so close to going home, I'm 84 days and going to the work center tomorrow. The deal with that is that it's like the pot calling the kettle black because her mother and I have been using for the last 10 years of her life, and she knows all about it and I would think it would be the last thing she would ever do, but now that it's kinda hit me in the face, it's really sad.

The wheels are turning, all day long, and I'm concerned about her getting in a wreck in the car . . . hurt by somebody, bad drugs . . . I never thought of, now the shoe's on a different foot . . . It's my daughter . . . I'm blown away and I feel really stupid because of the example I set over the years and that's the bottom end of it and how can I be telling her what to do . . . it just, it doesn't fit.

Jim Peck: Once on the other side of these fences, Ed has to focus on his recovery and does not expect to easily and cleanly step into the role of "father."

Ed Andersen graduatingEd: I have to lead by example, show 'em what I'm doing first and be respectful, cuz they've been living out there without us for years, that's the bottom line, and no reason for me to think I'm going to come in and, Daddy you're home! It's not like, they're adult kids and it's different now.

Jim Peck: Ed is graduating. He's counting on this program making a difference, making him different. He didn't get much sleep last night, there's a lot on his mind. He says he's going to do it right this time, to stay out of places like this.

Ed: Being able to come here and learn the things that I've learned about integrity and being honest and doing the right thing when no one is looking that made me take a deep look at how I've been for so long and realized it was time for me to make that change.

Coming through that door and doing this program has probably been the toughest thing in my life, and I hope every one of you make it because it's worth it. That's all I got.

I've waited a long time, I did a lot of work in that program, and this is where it all begins and I start practicing what I've learned.

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