Halfway to prison: 9OYS checks in on cadets training for new career

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Halfway to prison: 9OYS checks in on cadets training for new career

By Marcelino Benito. CREATED Dec 19, 2013

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It's on the job training like you've never seen before. Working for the Department of Correction is grueling, difficult and trying. Many make it, but some don't.

"Did you think you'd make it?" asked 9OYS reporter Marcelino Benito. "There were ups and downs," replied cadet Kathie Mullooly.

"We all push each other," said cadet Aron Passon.

Here at the COTA Academy they have to push. It's the only way to get ready to face some of society's most troubled criminals.

"It makes you question if you're going to be mentally strong enough to do this," said Passon.

Five weeks after we first met COTA class 986, a lot has changed.

"I dropped a bit of pudge here and there," said Passon.

Most have dropped pounds and gotten stronger. One cadet dropped out. The training proved too difficult. But the cadets tell 9OYS that if they just make it a little longer, the payoff will be worth the pain.

"Once you're in brown, you're a family," said Passon. "Once you're in brown, you're there for each other no matter what."

But they're not there yet.

"I'm really excited to see where it all ends," said Passon.

It'll end with their toughest challenge yet, something 9OYS cameras captured weeks ago, a shot of mace right to the face.

"We'll stay strong and all get through it," said Mullooly.

The class graduates on January 3rd. 9OYS will be at the graduation.