Providing second chances – that’s how Martin Douthit sees his life mission.
Douthit is an instructor at Renton Technical College, and his classroom is like no other at Renton Tech. It’s a jail.
“This is the cleanest jail in American,” he said.
That’s thanks to the inmates at the Regional Justice Center in Kent who are taking his custodial class.
“He doesn’t treat us like we’re in jail,” said Patrick, an inmate, and student. “He treats us like we’re in college. Like we’re in Renton Tech.”
That’s the idea.
“You change one life,” said Douthit, “how many lives does that effect? Over a thousand people have been through the program. So, you change one life. There are kids who are affected. There’s people who aren’t committing crimes. It’s a domino effect.”
He’s been teaching in the jail for twenty years and twenty-five years at the college.
They made Douthit an offer he couldn’t refuse: “They sent me to jail,” he joked. “But I go home on good behavior every day.”
After the 10-week course, inmates dressed in cap and gown get a certificate of completion. They've officially graduated from the custodial program at Renton Technical College.
“For some of them,” said Douthit, “it’s finishing something for the first time in their life.”