Prison program gives inmates life-long skills - WNEM TV 5

Prison program gives inmates life-long skills

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Source: CBS Source: CBS

It's a problem prisons see across the country - inmates getting out then re-offending and going back behind bars. A prison in Michigan is trying to break that cycle, though, by giving inmates life-long skills.

Beyond the fences and guards the inmates are building a better life.

“I think it gives a lot of us the opportunity to be proud of ourselves again, to work toward something,” said inmate Lee Robar.

It's the grand opening of Vocational Village at the Parnall Correctional Facility" outside Jackson.

“Provide skilled trades and give the offenders a skill they could go out into the world, fill a job that had been going unfilled and help themselves, and also help the community,” said Heidi Washington, director at Michigan Department of Corrections.

The MDOC received extra funds to turn an old warehouse into a training center.

Inmates learn the latest in concrete and masonry, robotics, carpentry, and automotive repair. They can also learn how to operate a forklift and semi-truck.

“They have to send an application and an essay indicating they want to be a part of the program, and then we screen them to make sure they have positive behavior,” said Melinda Braman, warden at Parnell Correctional Facility.

Inmates said the new programs are giving them hope that they can live a productive life when they get out of prison.

Robar said he is learning carpentry in the four months he has left behind bars.

“A lot of my life was in drugs and crime. I was involved in the wrong things.  I’m hoping to go home and really rely on this to do the best I can do,” he said.

The prison hopes local businesses can step up to give these inmates a second chance.

“We have talent here that can be of use to them,” Washington said.

Copyright 2017 CBS News. All rights reserved. 

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