PHOTOS: Lockhart inmates graduate from workforce training program

Texas Politics

Mary Henry, 45, of Tyler, (center) applauds at graduation, before she and her fellow inmates receive their Certified Production Technician diplomas. 14 student inmates at Lockhart Correctional Facility graduated from a workforce training program through Austin Community College on Aug. 24, 2019. (Photo Courtesy: Texas Workforce Commission)

LOCKHART, Texas (Nexstar) — More than a dozen inmates at a Central Texas prison are one step closer to finding jobs when they get released.

The 14 women graduated over the weekend from a workforce training program that covered manufacturing and other trade skills in a four-month course through Austin Community College. Each student earned the paperwork to be a Certified Production Technician.

“They’re prepared for any sort of front-line operator or supervisory position in any sort of manufacturing environment,” said Don Tracy, Director of Corporate and Community Education for Continuing Education Division at Austin Community College.

Ahead of graduation, the students said the certification is paramount, but the program meant more than that.

“It’s helped everybody, not with just a certificate that’s going to help them out there but with self-esteem to know that, ‘Hey I am okay,'” Misty Campbell, 46, from Amarillo, said. She is projected to be released in November.

The partnership stretches beyond the boundaries of the Lockhart Correctional Facility. Goodwill and the Texas Workforce Commission are also involved to help the student inmates find work after their release.

“Today tells us what can be done when thinking outside the box happens with people with big ideas and big hearts,” Texas Workforce Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez, said. “With a 3.4% unemployment rate in Texas, this is precisely the way we become innovative in our thinking and solve a shortage for skilled workers. Everyone deserves a second chance and these hardworking and inspiring women today only reinforce that message in magnitude.”

“We can provide them educational classes and provide them a job skill, but I think if we show them that we actually care about their well-being that’s a very good start and a very strong foundation,” senior warden Jennifer Brown said on Thursday.

This group believes in second chances.

“I just made a mistake and if given the chance I could prove that I am a better person than when I got here,” Mary Henry, 45, from Tyler, said after completing the course. She is slated to be released this week.

Learn more: New program in Texas prison gives inmates tools to succeed in society

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