Winfield inmate works with Wichita animals, looks to rebuild life after time served

Local

The Winfield Correctional Facility is providing an option for inmates that gives them a second chance at life. 

“You go into county, you lose everything. you lose a house, job, car, whatever,” said Steven Yates, an inmate at Winfield Correctional Facility.

That has been Steven Yates’ struggle for 10 years now, going in and out of prison for drug charges. 

Now, he’s changing his life around, working five days a week at the Wichita Animal Shelter, while completing time for his crimes. 

“I clean the kennels,” said Yates. “In the morning, I come in, I power wash.”

“One of our goals is to establish offenders into the community before their release so when we have offsite crews that go into the community, they can really form bonds,” said Electra Knowles, Winfield Correctional Facility.

Steven hasn’t only made those bonds with the animals, he’s also left a lasting impression on the people he works with. 

“He is so dependable and such a hard worker,” said Lt. Brian Sigman, Wichita Animal Services Commander. “Which are great qualities to have in an employee.”

This opportunity has a different significance for Steven than other employees there. He is working to get rid of the stigma of inmates and proving he is not defined by his mistakes. 

“I’ve got a name, it’s Steven,” said Yates. “I’m an inmate. But I’m a person too.”

And now, more than ever, he’s learned not to take his work fo granted. He says once he gets out of prison, there’s no looking back. 

“My parents and grandparents, they’ve always told me, ‘if you want something out of life, you’ve got to work for it’ so, I’m working for it.”

Yates recently went from part time to full time at the shelter. 

He says he is thankful to the correctional facility, as well as Lieutenant Sigman for the chance to learn and also give back. 

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