Inmates Earn Impressive Construction Certification To Compete For Jobs

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(Memphis) A new program to keep our streets safe by working with men already locked up for committing crimes.

The job market is tough for people out of work, and it's even tougher for convicted felons.

However, WREG has learned there's a push inside one Mississippi prison to give inmates the upper hand when filling out those applications.

Management and Training Corporation is a private company that runs the Marshall County Corrections Facility.

Deputy Warden Trish Doty showed us what looked like murals you'd likely see on a daycare wall...except they were on the walls of the prison.

The airbrush artwork is done by the inmates for the children who come to prison to visit their fathers.

Doty said, "This kind of stuff is marketable. They can get jobs doing this kind of stuff. Illustrating children's books."

Deputy Warden Doty oversees the facility's new commercial inmate painting program.

Inmates do specialty artwork, but this national construction certification is more about preparing inmates to work in the commercial painting industry.

It includes three months of instruction on OSHA regulations and construction math before they even touch a paint brush.

Then, they must pass a test.

"Nothing on this certification says Mississippi Department of Corrections or Marshall County Correctional Facility. It will say NCCER. It will have his name and it will have that he's certified in OSHA guidelines as the first component and the practical portion he gets a second card for that," said Doty.

She says the public will benefit from this painting program too because most of those that are on the inside will be coming out.

Doty said, "It makes our community safer. It makes them more productive in the communities and we need these Dads out taking care of their babies. We've got a whole generation of babies without fathers."

This type of national certification isn't easy to get, not even for those in the free world.

The folks at Booker Hardware in Holly Springs hadn't even heard of it, including Jonathan Moore, who's worked here since he was 10. He's 32 now. Still, he hopes it works for the inmates.

"If they're willing to get out and work and try in the community, go for it. as long as they stay out of trouble. Give them something to do to keep them from going back to prison. I think it's great," said Moore.

The prison urges the community to support the program by hiring the inmates when they get out.

At some point, the deputy warden says someone needs to give them a chance to not just whitewash walls but their backgrounds also.

Inmates are told to be upfront about their background when applying for their construction jobs. Eighteen inmates are in the program now. The Marshall County prison hopes to certify at least 40 inmates a year.


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