Seeley Swan to Welcome

Communities | Recreation | Real Estate | Events | Lodging | Local History | Churches | Businesses | News & Features

Boot Camp interns show
SSHS students how it is

Booter Pasechnekov (middle) "hits the deck" when ordered to do so by Drill Instructor Sergeant Vanderhoef. He will do exercises until he is told to get up. This is part of the program at the boot camp which involves strict discipline and strenuous exercise.

Booter Coley answers a lot louder when Drill Instructor Sergeant Vanderhoef tells him he can't hear him. "Yes Sir!"


Booter Landon Greenough responds as requested by Drill INstructor Sergeant Vanderhoef

by Patricia Swan Smith
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
November 26, 1998

It starts out with booze and goes to drugs; then it's on to guns and domestic violence. This was part of the message some of the Seeley students heard last month from three convicted felons who came to share their stories during a panel for October's Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The local Family Violence Council, which is a leg of the SSTEP program, sponsored the panel from the Treasure State Correctional Training Center (TSCTC) at the Seeley Swan High School on October 26th.

Eighth grade through seniors quietly listened, many on the edge of their seats, as three convicted felons, one who had attended Seeley Swan High School, told their stories about how alcohol and drugs had led them all to make the poor choices. They were all facing a prison sentence. They were eligible to complete a program referred to as Boot Camp, which is an alternative to prison.

The panel was put together with two thoughts in mind:
1. To let students know that if they are victims of domestic violence and/or date rape or other sexual abuse, there is help locally by calling the SSTEP program at 677-3177. Several SSTEP members were in the audience to talk with after the program.
2. To allow the students to see where alcohol and drugs could take them and try to encourage them to make positive choices. If crimes can be prevented, there are fewer victims who have to spend year after year trying to put their lives back together.
Program Manager Dan Burden started the panel off by explaining how this strict disciplinary and physically straining program takes the felons from hard-core criminals to receptive trainees. If they graduate, they move on to the Great Falls Pre-Release Center and are called Booters.

Besides the disciplinary and physical part of the program, the trainees also attend a Victim Impact Panel, GED classes, Criminal Thinking Errors, Substance Abuse, Anger Management, Parenting, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Moral Reconation Therapy and Victimology classes.

Burden described criminal thinking. He said that the criminals know what they are doing is wrong, so they have to explain it. "Look, that stupid lady left her keys in her car. She deserves to have it stolen" is one example he gave.

Sometime during the program, the trainees will role play with each other. For instance, a drunk driver will have to pretend he's at the wheel. When he looks up, he will have to face bodies covered with sheets. Voices from under the sheets will say things like "I can't be dead. I have to go pick up my kids. I was just on my way to get them. I am dead. That drunk driver killed me. Why?"
During the Victim's Impact Panel, they face victims of crimes who have volunteered to speak. They do not face their own victims in this panel.

And, according to Great Falls Aftercare Counselor Mike Scott, facing the victims fills a missing link. He said that the classes teach them to verbalize what they have done and how those crimes effect the victims, but facing the victims forces many of them to feel empathy, which he said makes a big difference in their attitudes and progress.

One of the felons, Booter Landon Greenough, who graduated from TSCTC, was a student from Seeley Lake. Many of the students were shocked to see someone they knew standing before them telling them how bad alcohol and drugs had messed up his life, and that he was facing a ten-year prison sentence for burglary.

"This is where I started making victims. Seeley Lake. First you start to do a little drinking, smoke a little dope or do a line with some friends, thinking it's cool," Booter Greenough said. "Then you start needing it. Pretty soon you're stealing from your parents. Then you start stealing from everyone. Eventually you want to stick a gun in somebody's face.

I know there are some of you out there who could end up where I am if you don't start making good choices now. Leave it alone. Get healthy. Man there is so much to do in this area. There is hiking, snowmobiling, ride your mountain bike. You don't need heavy metal. You don't need that. This is beautiful country. I wish I would have enjoyed those types of things instead of drinking and drugs."

Another speaker, Booter Coley, said he had been sentenced for three counts of domestic violence, burglary and theft. He was facing twenty-three years in prison.

"I'd come home from the bar and get into it with her. Next thing you know, I hurt her and the cops were called. It was almost every weekend. I kept thinking I could stop, but I had to realize I was an alcoholic. The abuse involved my son. He was really messed up. I never cared about those two at all before I went to the boot camp. I stole a car from a 60-year-old woman. I didn't care. I wrecked it. I didn't care. All I wanted to do is party, party, party. When drinking lots of beer wasn't enough, I started doing crank and heroine. I lost it.

Now I know I have to make the right choices not to drink and drug and not to hit. I spent 113 days at the boot camp, and it was the hardest part of my life. Your life is what you make it."

Booter Pasechnekov, originally from Russia, said that his drinking is what led him to stealing. He was sentenced to eight years in prison. He spent some time in prison before entering the TSCTC.

"I put my family through hell. I wish I would have done things differently. Listened to my parents and finished high school, but instead I drank and hung out. I started out with drinks for fun and ended up with no control in my life. Before I knew it, I was in prison. Prison is not the place that anybody wants to go. This program opened up my mind."

After the booters finished speaking to the students, Drill Instructor Sergeant Vanderhoef gave the students a taste of what the booters had gone through at the TSCTC during intake. Intake is there first experience in the program.

The first two hours at the TSCTC is a shock and goes like this:
They'll take turns getting their heads shaved to the scalp.
They cannot make eye contact with anyone. They learn to say "Excuse me sir," or "Excuse me ma'am" each time they pass someone.
The brim of the Drill Instructors hat presses against the Trainee's forehead. He yells, "Who you looking at? Don't look at me. Your eyes had better be looking straight ahead at all times. Do you understand me?"
"Yes Sir," the Trainee answers.
But it's not loud enough.
"What did you say," the DI screams? "I can't hear you?"
The Trainee's face turns red. The veins in his neck stick out as he yells, "Yes sir."
And he drops the second the DI yells, "Hit the deck."
"Yes Sir." He's down.
"Get up."
"Yes Sir." He's up.
"Hit the deck."
"Yes Sir." He's back down.
"Get up."
"Yes Sir." He's up.
"So you stole a car from a 60-year-old lady? Wow. And you like to beat up on your girlfriend."
"Yes Sir. I did sir."
"Hit the deck."
"Yes Sir."
"And you. You like to steal things."
"Yes sir. I did sir."
"Up against the wall. Knees out. Now start stealing. Get those hands out there and don't stop until I tell you to."
"Yes Sir."

After about five minutes of this demonstration, the Booters stand at ease while Sergeant Vanderhoef explains why the treatment is so rough.

"They're used to intimidating their girlfriends, their wives, but they can't do that with us because we won't let them. We break through all that. Once they are so tired and frustrated they can't think, they can't lie.

One student referred to the harsh treatment of the intake process and asked Sergeant Vanderhoef if he enjoyed his job. He replied "Yes I do. I come from a military background, and this is necessary for the other parts of the program to work. If the program were strictly military, it would fail. If it were strictly counseling, it would fail. You have to have both so the trainees are receptive to the other end of the program."

All three of the speakers volunteered to come and talk to the students, and they answered questions after the talk and demonstration were over.

Here are what a few of the remarks high school
and eighth grade students had about watching the panel.

High School Student:
"I saw that everyone needs to make good choices. Don't do dumb things like drugs. You can't get a second chance in life so do it right and smart the first time. I saw that when you make dumb choices you regret them in the future. Be mart, make good choices, and life will come a lot easier in the future."
High School Student:
"What I saw today at the assembly involving the boot camp kids was sad. I thought it was sad because they had to go through all of that. But they made the mistakes so there was harsh consequences. It also makes me unhappy that people at this school sit there and do drugs and make their lives miserable, then watch these things and it does not persuade them in the slightest to change their ways and stop doing drugs and turn their lives around. It make me happy that they had decided to turn their lives around and go to boot camp and get help. For the people that work at the boot camp place, it is really great that they will help people like that although it is a harsh way of dealing with them, it is probably effective. Overall, it was a very moving and inspiring assembly and it shows that you can, if you want to, turn your life around with a little help even if it is very strict and harsh."
High School Student:
I though it was good for all of the kids to see what it's like for those guys. It was sad to see those guys up there because I could tell that they regretted everything that they did in the past. Those men were really brave to come here and tell a whole school what happened to them and how they felt. I hope that some of the kids at our school realized that one of those guys could be them in the future. I thought Laden was really brave to come here, since he hurt a lot of people in his past here. I'm glad that they all came to school."
High School Student:
"What they talked about should have an impact on people's lives--Whether they are the victim or the one who does the victimizing. Every person will be one or the other sometime in their life.
I've been a victim all of my life. What those three men said made me understand the people in my life who have been hurting me and others. I fell sorry for them.
These people today gave the people listening a chance to either change their life style, or to see that they're not the only ones being a victim. People really need someone to tell them.
I am thankful that these people came today. I am sure they have made a difference just for trying. Today, they have either helped a victim speak out, or they have shown a victimizer a different way that won't take them down the same road as those men.
There was a lot of truth to everything that was said or demonstrated. I know, thought, that I would not want to be one of those people."
High School Student:
"I thought the assembly made you think twice about the decisions you would make. It's going to have to have a great effect on your life. One thing that you know is that prison is not a good thing; it's a bad thing. People make bad choices sometimes and they'll learn from them. Boot camp is a positive look out on life because if you are a victim or a victimizer, you're second chance is boot camp."
High School Student:
The assembly represented what can happen to all of us if we don't have enough willpower to prevent it. I've known Landon Greenough since I was a little kid. Seeing him up there reforming himself made me extremely proud of him. I realize that he had to go through a lot to get to the current mental state that he is in now. However I believe that everything happens for a reason, be it good or bad. If you can learn something about yourself, others around you, or your surroundings then it will become a positive experience. It's sad that going to prison is what it takes to wake people up and clean up their act, but that's better than if they never want to change at all. I hope this assembly is a wake-up call for some kids, then they can learn from other people's experience."
High School Student:
"The assembly that we saw was one of the most incredible I've seen, and made reality bite. At first when I heard we were having the assembly, I was like this is just a reason to get out of class. Then as I walked in there and the first words were spoken, it had my undivided attention.
I was never close to anyone who has been through such ordeals, including em. I also never realized what the consequences of someone who commits a serious crime. But everyone of the stories that were told went straight to my heart and made me want to empathize and reach out. It opened my eyes to the world we live in today.
It was a well put together assembly that hopefully touched many lives and had a great deal of impact on the audience members. I wish the kids that could have benefited most would have been paying attention."
8th Grade Student:
"I thought that the assembly about the boot camp was a very good idea to have. It really makes you realize what the consequences can be for doing illegal things. I liked it how they had real guys that actually experienced the boot camp there, and how they talked about exactly what they did to get into jail and what happened to them. It was also very interesting that one of the guys was from Seeley and made me realize that we have as good of a chance at going to jail and ruining our lives here in Seeley as anyone anywhere. it was also good that they demonstrated drills that actually happen, and I think that the assembly was a very good way to make us think twice before getting ourselves into things that we shouldn't.
8th Grade Student:
"I think that the presentation was good because as I looked around the room at people who smoke ciggs, or pot or drink alcohol, they were really paying attention to the boys and were saying "I don't want to end up there," so I think it helped some people."
8th Grade Student:
I thought the presentation was very good. I thought it was good how they made that program to help people who have problems with domestic violence. I think it was good for some people to see what happens when you get involved in drugs and alcohol. I think that those boys who talked to us really had an impact on some of the kids. I also liked the story of the boy Greenough who started drinking when he lived in Seeley. I think that a lot of people in Seeley will end up like that guy if they don't change their ways now. I hope some people will change their minds about the way they live and that they wouldn't end up going though what those boys went through. I think it would stink to waste my life the way they have."
8th Grade Student:
"I thought the presentation was neat. It told us that you don't want to drink alcohol and take drugs because they can cause you to hurt other people. They can also cause you to go to jail. Jail is not fun, but boot camp isn't either.
The presentation told us that boot camp is hard. You go there if you do wrong things in your life. Most of it is drinking or using drugs. So, if you don't do drugs or drink, you probably won't make wrong choices in your life."
8th Grade Student:
I think the presentation was really good because it showed what drugs do to you and why you shouldn't do that. A lot of the high schoolers might have realized that the outcome of it turned out good but they can't even begin to realize how tough it is. I thought it was very sad and that those boys have been through a lot from making the bad decisions. Some of the people in the audience should probably go to one of the boot camps for a day just to see what it was like. That way maybe they will make the right decisions."
8th Grade Student:
"It made me feel that I want to do the right thing. It made me feel how bad it is to make the wrong decisions. I felt bad for all of the people that go there. That would suck to be at the boot camp. I would hate to wear the clothes that they do. That would be the worst thing before dying."
8th Grade Student:
"I liked the presentation and I took time to think about it and I will think twice about what I do bad in the future. It is not worth loosing your life and spending life in prison or time in boot camp. So think about what you are doing. I would never want to go there but I think it is a good program so you don't have to spend so much time in prison."

Basic Facts About
Treasure State
Correction Training Center

by Patricia Swan Smith

The Treasure State Correctional Training Center (TSCTC) is an alternative to prison. Felons must be recommended by their sentencing judge, and then they have to volunteer to participate in a program. It is a 90 to 120 day program. The felons at TSCTC are called Trainees. Their ages range from 18 to 34. According to Program Manager Dan Burden, many of the trainees have been in the court system for ten years.

The crimes range from felony drug charges, burglary, drunk driving, vehicular homicide, assault, forgery, theft to domestic violence. Most of them have numerous charges.

Public Information Officer Bonnie Metzler said that many of the felons come from "normal" homes, with parents who have tried everything to help their children. Unfortunately, those children started using alcohol and drugs and making poor choices while in school. Some in high school or college, and some in grade school. Other felons come from physically or sexually abusive homes and/or homes where alcohol and other drug abuse problems were constantly a part of their lives.

The program consists of strict discipline, hard labor, physical training, military style drills as well as classes in education, anger management, criminal thinking errors, "7 Habits of Highly Effective People", substance abuse, Victims Impact Panel, Victimology, Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT), health, living skills, job skills and vocational skills.

The goals of the program are to develop self-respect, responsibility, self-discipline, a solid work ethic, accountability and empathy.
They work through four phases before they are eligible for graduation. When they arrive, they don white coveralls referred to as "Ghost Suits." After seven to ten days, if they earn the right, they will wear blue shirts and blue jeans. Through individual program reviews, they go from chrome hard hats, to an orange cover (cap), then red, and when they are promoted to a yellow cover, they are eligible to graduate. They must earn each cover change.

After graduation, most Trainees are off to the Great Falls Aftercare program. Here they are called Booters. They will go through three phases. Just like at the TSCTC, progress dictates advancement.

The length of stay at the Aftercare center is based on court ordered mandates or conditions, recommendations of the TSCTC Staff, evaluations by their primary counselor and the Montana State Probation and Parole Division.

Here, they continue a physical exercise program as well as work spot jobs and do community service. They also attend counseling, groups, chemical dependency and advanced living skills classes as well as Booter support groups.

The Treasure State Correction Training Center and Aftercare Program dictate: "No more drugs, booze, jails, negative attitudes and self-defeating behavior. You found replacements for them--accountability, discipline, responsibility and teamwork. If you truly have the desire to take the next steps on your road to freedom, you will need to use these and all your tools every hour of every day for the rest of your life."

This alternative to prison program started in July of 1993. It was located in the Swan Valley until October 1997, at which time it was moved to Deer Lodge.

According to Mike Cronin, the Department of Corrections Public and Victim Information Specialist, several issues prompted the move from the Swan. He said that due to the tremendous expense of transporting felons to and from the Swan Valley location along with the high cost the department was facing for both maintenance and remodeling much of the camp, housing shortages for employees and recruitment of staff, they were considering a new facility in Deer Lodge.

In January of 1995, a female employee was violently attacked by Trusty Rodney Sattler, and Cronin said that this brought the decision to move the camp to a head. Sattler, who was serving a sentence at Deer Lodge for murder was working at the camp, and he was not in the Trainee program. Directly after this incident, all trustees were removed from the camp, and there are no trustees involved in the program.

Return to November 1998 News Contents Page
Return to News Index Page