The program is funded by the Florida Department of Corrections through a grant.
“I really appreciate what this program has taught me. I hope to put what I have learned to good use during my work-release assignment,” said one inmate.
The program, which has graduated 15 classes since it started two years ago, trains inmates in basic safety, using power and hand tools, grading and surveying and basic wiring, according to NEFBA Training Director Laura Laseman.
Laseman said that once the inmates have been transferred to work release centers around the state, employers should regard them more favorably because they have received construction training.
“Our job is to help the inmates have an easier transition,” said Stan Totman, classification specialist at the Dinsmore Center. “This program has given them a basic understanding of what is required to work in the construction trades. The skills they learned here can help them, if they apply them properly.”
With the construction industry in need of more trained workers, the course may serve as an introduction to a career that will help prevent the inmates from returning to a correctional institution.
“Many of these young offenders do not have the basic skills necessary. Programs like this help them find something of interest which they can develop into possible careers,” she said.
Training projects have included building a wooden playhouse, swings, benches for a children’s park and a wheelchair ramp.
“The students have also done some maintenance around the facility. They also built a pump house,” Miller said.
This story was filed by Michael Bonts, who is communications director for the Northeast Florida Builders Association.
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