Daniel advises all his children to press through issues instead of giving up– just like he did to repair their relationships.
Daniel Freeman’s work history before incarceration was reforestation, gathering forest products, or any other job where he thought he didn’t have to show up on time or could be his own boss. He liked it because he could keep drinking and using drugs. When he entered DOC custody, it was his 53rd arrest cycle. He had no self-esteem or way to make amends to his kids as he had lost custody of and had no contact with them. While at his first DOC housing assignment in a medium facility, he participated in several DOC programs where he learned the only true way to make amends was to change his behavior.
Daniel's next step was to find a work assignment. The OCE Metal Shop took a chance on him. He suddenly felt meaningful – productive – accountable. He started at the entry level as a grinder, then promoted to a welder with increasingly tougher projects. The job created structure and gave purpose to his life. He found he liked getting out of the mindset of general prison life. He completed OCE certification and then the DOC Work-based Education Automotive program, resulting in an associate’s degree. He transferred to a minimum custody facility for a 6-month intensive treatment program in a dorm atmosphere. He found it difficult because he couldn’t isolate himself anymore, but he didn’t give up. When he released, he attended the local community college, studying how to start a successful business. Life after incarceration has not been easy. However, it is not without rewards.
After many attempts, he qualified for tribal housing and moved from a trailer parked on someone’s property into a one bedroom apartment. He reconnected with his children who are all supportive of the changes he has made. They are building Daniel’s business on property belonging to one of his sons. He received a conditional use permit and building permits to build the final structure needed: a 36x48 shop with 3 bays for automotive/welding jobs using the skills he learned in the OCE and DOC programs. He bought a 90 amp welder. He received a lift and 80 gallon compressor through a grant. A Grand Ronde tribal member, he now has a contract with his tribe’s 477 program – the tribe will pay him to fix qualifying tribal members’ vehicles. Transition has been the biggest struggle, but he sees himself as being successful.
He worked with Indian Child Welfare and the Department of Human Services to reconnect with his youngest son (15), who, at first, didn’t want anything to do with his dad. Daniel didn’t give up and insisted on seeing his son every week. It paid off. Now they talk frequently, and Daniel advises all his children to press through issues instead of giving up – just like he did to repair their relationships.
Daniel has never violated his parole. In fact, his Parole Officer has been a huge support. In addition, Daniel’s vocational rehabilitation counselor has a similar conviction history and has supported Daniel throughout this process. Initially, Daniel had a hard time asking for assistance as he didn’t want to appear he was struggling. But he has found people are there the moment he asks for help.
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