Domestic violence program is changing lives inside prison walls

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Inside a prison, it's easy to lose hope, but in one room, inmates have something to celebrate-- A graduation complete with a cap and gown. (KFSN)

Inside a prison, it's easy to lose hope, but in one room, inmates have something to celebrate-- A graduation complete with a cap and gown. Something Daniel Henson never thought he'd wear. He's been behind bars since he was 16.

"There's nothing I can say, I am guilty of a horrible, terrible thing."

In 1998 Henson was convicted of murdering four people in Merced County. His dad, his stepmom, his brother and his sister and he was sentenced to 176 years to life in prison.

"Nothing else matters in my life except to show my repentance-- to show my remorse."

That's why Henson is with 22 other inmates and woman named Tina Rodriguez. For the past 52 weeks, she's been working with them-- helping them face their crimes and understand the pain they've caused.

"I wanted to go beyond numbers, I wanted to give them a name and with each name, I wanted to hear their story."

Rodriguez has her own story-- She was a victim of domestic violence and sexual abuse at a young age. Years later, she reconciled with the man who destroyed her childhood. It's called restorative justice and she gives inmates the same opportunity.

"Break the cycle, she's breaking the cycle here," said Henson.

For Henson this is freedom. He can never take back what he did but he can move forward and be a positive influence on the people around him.

"To be able to graduate, it has a redeeming quality and it restores some dignity."

Word about the program has spread at the prison. Rodriguez said there are 300 inmates on a wait-list for the next class and she hopes to expand to other prisons.
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