I-Team: The Road to Redemption

LAS VEGAS -- Convicted felons have trouble voting, owning weapons and even getting a job. Second chances are hard to come by. But now a new website and support group have started up and a former felon is in charge, sharing his story to help others rehabilitate their lives.

To see where Richard Baxter has come from to where he is today, it gives hope to anyone who ever has needed a second chance. And for the convicted felon, the journey to get respect isn't easy.

Prisoner, burglar, drug addict, and convict are just some of the names that were used to describe Baxter.

Back on a warm Memorial Day in 2008, Baxter was marching 18 miles as part of a boot camp diversion program.

"You know what? I've been down a bad road but I want to share my story with other people," Baxter said.

After the six month stint in the bare desert, the United States Air Force veteran paid his debt, but the darkness didn't always stop. "I actually used to wake up every morning and ask myself what can I do today to change myself? Because I didn't like who I was."

So he leaned on the no nonsense tough love approach of Lieutenant Harold Wickham.

"We give them more or a less a shock incarceration, an in your face wake up call," said Lt. Harold Wickham, Three Lakes Valley Boot Camp.

Baxter listened and a connection was formed between prisoner and guard.

"He, for lack of better words, drank the Kool-Aid, did the program exceptionally well and since doing the program, I hear from him on a regular basis," said Wickham.

Because of that support, Baxter found the will inside to keep going. "Maybe they see something in me that I forgot. That was the faith I went on," Baxter said.

And along the way, he got his job back at the carpenter's union, and he's now going to night school. He kicked drugs, got off the street, but most of all, he found Nadine, his long lost high school sweetheart who is now Mrs. Baxter. She helps him with his new passion www.x-convicts.com, a support group website for felons. He said it provides information he needed when he was done serving time.

"Give me some tools. Give me some outreach programs. Give me some information, some phone numbers. It's a needed safety net to vent and learn," he said.

The boot camp program costs the state about one-fourth the cost it would to send someone to jail.


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