Byline: By Bethany Davis
Subtitle: Program offerings equip inmates with high-demand skills for reentry
Keeping offenders from returning to prison begins the day an individual enters our care. Now, two CoreCivic Safety facilities in Georgia are offering new ways to help prepare inmates for the day they will head home.
On Dec. 13, Coffee Correctional Facility in Nicholls and Wheeler Correctional Facility in Alamo commemorated the opening of their new Inmate Vocational Training Center buildings at a ceremony held at Wheeler. The event was attended by officials from CoreCivic and the Georgia Department of Corrections, elected officials and community leaders.
The new buildings will house vocational programs in welding and diesel maintenance – both high-demand fields that can provide good career opportunities once inmates are released. Each training center is 6,300 square feet and took just seven months to complete.
"We have been looking forward to this day for quite a while," said Vance Laughlin, warden at Wheeler. "This new facility will help many of our inmates gain the skills they need to take care of their families and be successful in the community."
The new programs are possible through a partnership between CoreCivic and the Georgia Department of Corrections, with support from local community colleges Wiregrass Georgia Technical College and Oconee Fall Line Technical College.
In addition to the new programs, each facility provides a variety of training in other fields like masonry, carpentry, horticulture, office technology and truck-driving along with life skills programs and GED classes. Wheeler and Coffee were ranked among the highest for the number of GEDs issued to inmates in the state of Georgia for the fiscal year ending in July 2016. Wheeler came in first and Coffee came in a close second.
"Time in prison can often be a time of reflection and change for these guys," said Hilton Hall, warden at Coffee. "Education and vocational training provides opportunities for a better life and a new beginning."
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