Jail program helps prepare inmates for military

A jail program gets prisoners ready to enter the military.

Detention deputies in Highlands County are hoping to turn inmates' lives around. They've started a new program to help them join the military after serving their time.

Lt. Chris Ritenhour, who oversees the program, said it’s the first of its kind in the state of Florida.

Anthony Rotsgalm is part of the program. He served about six months for trespassing after getting into a confrontation with an officer and was released earlier this week.

“I see a place where my life started to change,” Rotsgalm said, looking back at the jail.

Most people probably don’t consider the jail building as a place of opportunity, but Detention Deputy Scott Waldon said he has hope for the inmates.

“The majority have the ability, they just need a shot,” he explained.

Because he gets to know the inmates so well, Waldon picks the ones he thinks will do well in the military.

The new program helps inmates prepare for a military qualification test and get in shape, so they meet fitness requirements.

Rotsgalm's wife and daughter are his motivation to get his life on track.

“I've had several officers tell me everything happens for a reason, and I didn't believe it until now,” he said.

He’s learned jail doesn't have to be the end of the road; It can also be a fresh start.
 

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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