Inmates complete parenting course

Alisa Boswell

Emotions ran high in the Roosevelt County Detention Center Tuesday as 14 inmates, two with tears in their eyes, accepted certificates of completion for the parenting class they had just completed.

“I learned how to be a mom,” said Rosenda Martinez, beginning to cry. “I know I’ve grown because me and my daughter bond more and communicate better. She’s always saying, ‘Call back, call back.’”

Martinez is a mother of five children and has been able to talk to her children on the phone since beginning the parenting course in March.

“I feel like it is an absolutely positive outcome,” said Patricia Saylor, volunteer instructor for the course and instructor of social work at Eastern New Mexico University. “It shows these types of programs work.”

Saylor said of the 18 students who began the course, only four dropped out and all 14 students left completed the course and received certificates.

Another inmate, Olivia Lucero, mother of three, also began to cry as she spoke of being able to talk to her oldest son.

“Now I know a little bit more about being a parent,” Lucero said. “You automatically raise your children the way you were raised but with these parenting classes, you become a better parent. I’ve definitely seen a difference in the way I am with my son.”

Lucero said she was scheduled to talk to her middle child by phone later that afternoon after a month of no communication.

“I’m very proud of them,” Saylor said. “I think what needs to be shared is that I was a guest in their environment and they always made me feel accepted and respected at all times.”

“I just want to prepare my kids for what’s coming and think about what brought me here and what I don’t want my kids to do,” said Justin Husted, father of three. “I don’t want them to be writing me from prison. I want to end this cycle.”

“I’m just hoping these guys will take this out in the world and use it,” said Security Chief Clay Layher, who began the program. “I believe many of them will. I really do.”

Joe Sanchez, father of one, said learning about giving children false hope in the class had a big impact on him because he promised his son he would never go away again but he did.

“This jail in general has changed it all,” Sanchez said. “This is the longest I’ve been away from him.”

Casanova said Saylor and ENMU’s cooperation has meant a lot to detention center officials and inmates.

“Without them, we could not have made this program a success,” he said.

“We’ve learned society didn’t do this to me, nobody did this to me; I did this to myself,” Husted said. “If I come back, I’m not going to be wearing silver bracelets.”