Beyond The Bars, Part 2
ABERDEEN, Miss. (WCBI) – Inmates at the Monroe County Jail in Aberdeen completed a course that was the first of its kind for our area, taking steps closer to something that can be hard for released prisoners to find, a job.
Being released from prison is a second chance.
When someone is willing to help an inmate make the most of that chance, it improves the possibility for success.
“I think that’s part of the reason that they paid attention like they did because they knew I wasn’t here for the money. I was here for them,” said Itawamba Community College adjunct instructor, Steve Crone.
Back in the Fall of 2017, Crone was asked a favor.
“ICC called me and said they were teaching a program and that they might offer it in the jails, and I said sign me up now tell me what it is,” said Crone.
The program “Pathway to Employment in Construction” is a 64-hour course, teaching trade skills in construction.
For the twelve graduates at the Monroe County Jail, that means they now have a certification that’s recognized in all 50 states and 20 countries.
All are welcome to take it.
“That’s one benefit this program has is you don’t have to have a high school diploma to enroll into the program,” said Itawamba Community College Workforce Project Manager, Tatiana Sherman. “You don’t have to have any kind of experience We want to help those who have never had a full-time job in life or don’t have a skill.”
Having a skill is valuable, but the half that makes the whole is having a job to go with it.
The program provides that too.
“We have three large construction companies in the area who have committed into interviewing, for potential employment, those students who have successfully completed the program,” said Sherman.
With opportunity knocking, these inmates are anxious to see what the future holds.
“It’s something new for us. It’s something you don’t expect to have here,” said graduate, Russel Rakestraw.
“Well, having a job is just going to keep you away from the same things you were doing, you know, stay out of trouble, you know, keep them on the right track,” said graduate, Dallas Waggener.
“It just gives me a chance to prove that I can do other stuff than mess up, you know, give me family an opportunity to be proud of the stuff that I’m doing other than the bad decisions I’ve made,” said graduate, William Poss.
For Crone, prisoners and addicts have a special place in his heart; he lost a son to drugs.
Crone says this is his way to give back before it’s too late.
“If there’s anyway that anybody outside can distinguish the people inside that have actually tried to improve themselves while they were here… Those are the people that are very likely going to succeed in the outside, and I suggest people give them a second chance,” said Crone.
On top of this, the program is proud to have an employment rate of nearly 100% AND at no tax-payer expense.
Itawamba Community College would like to have this program in jails across Northeast Mississippi.
Please contact Tatiana (Tanya) Sherman to register for this program 662-407-1523.
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