No matter how peaceful and quiet Beaver County is, there are some places you just don’t ever want to go.
That place is easy to spot.
It’s on the west side of I-15 near the south end of Beaver, and part of it is surrounded by a tall razor-wire fence.
“My wife said to me, ‘did you ever think you’d spend so much time in jail?’” said Kelly Kendall with a laugh.
It’s not that Kendall likes being in jail. It’s just there’s something about talking to inmates he understands.
“I feel their pain. I feel their hearts. I have empathy for them,” said Kendall.
You see, Kendall is a father. And the inmates he speaks to are fathers, too.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, honestly,” he said. “It’s exhausting at times. But I love it.”
Kendall runs a class teaching inmates how to be better dads for when they eventually get out. The stories he often hears are enough to make even the toughest inmate wipe their eyes.
“There are tears in every class,” said Kendall.
Some of those tears are from Raymond Marquez.
“I try not to think about it because it hurts. You know? It hurts a lot,” said Marquez.
He has been in jail for almost nine years. His four kids don’t really know him.
“These bricks. These walls. This is what opened my eyes, you know? It sucks that this is what it’s taken,” Marquez said while taking off his glasses and wiping his eyes. “It’s made me think. Think a lot.”
Same for Casey Fallon. He hasn’t seen his daughter in six years.
“It does hurt a lot. I missed her first steps, her first birthday, I’ve missed all of it. I’ve missed every birthday, every Christmas, every Halloween,” said Fallon.
It can be easy to lose hope, especially when you have children and don’t see them.
“In person? I haven’t seen them in almost five years,” said Josef Hardesty, who has three children. “It’s difficult. I miss them every day. I get reports of what they’re doing and things like that. But you yearn to be part of those moments.”
However, each of these inmates knows they will get out at some point.
“I go back to the board in 2022,” said Hardesty. “So I’m hoping no more than ten years altogether.”
That’s why they’re taking this class. Officially, it’s called “InsideOut Dad®.” It’s designed to teach them how to be loving fathers.
“I’ve been a selfish person my entire life. I’ve always taken care of myself first,” said Hardesty. “But in this class, we have an instructor who teaches us there’s hope, that there are still steps we can take to repair these relationships, even while we’re incarcerated.”
Kendall has been teaching these classes in several jails for three years now. It’s a five-week class done through Utah State University’s healthy relationships program.
“The program has been proven now. The number one thing in reducing recidivism is for them to go home and be a dad,” said Kendall.
Another benefit is financial. Keeping inmates from returning to jail saves money.
“We spend a lot of money incarcerating people in the state of Utah. And we need to try and find a way not to do that,” said Beaver County Sheriff Cameron Noel. He has is been in law enforcement for 27 years and has noticed the children of former inmates often become incarcerated themselves.
“We have had children of fathers when I first started, and now their kids are in here as adults,” said Noel. “We want to break that trend and I think this is a good way to do it.”
One way to do that is to continue doing these classes. It helps inmates realize it’s not too late.
“I want to be a better person. I want to be a better father. I want, I just want to be a better me,” said Fallon.
Alex Cabrero is a reporter for KSL Broadcasting in Salt Lake City, Utah. This article was originally posted on February 27th 2019 at KLS.com and is reposted here with permission from KLS TV.