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Technical training program provides hope for Shelby County inmates

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A group of Shelby County inmates are making history.

They're the fist to graduate from a technical training program called hope to hire.

It's a program that could benefit us all.

About a year ago it was just an idea for Brad Martin to provide meaningful job opportunities to inmates who are getting ready to leave jail.

"They're going back of the community, so why not come back to the community with a kill that can fill one of those jobs," the retired Sacks CEO and former interim University of Memphis president said.

That idea became reality for men in the first graduating class of a technical training program called Hope 2 Hire.

"It's like I accomplished something in life for the first time, and I'm really very proud. I just wish I could show my grandma who raised me," graduate Michael Walker said.

Hope 2 Hire took the inmates through a 13-week program that was focused on career development and personal development.

The course also included a construction and job skills course.

Walker will be released in two weeks and says he's looking toward his future.

"I really hate that I made poor choices, but that I have a skill I can go out and use it for good," he said.

Walker says he was apprehensive about the program.

"At first I was going to go in and give up on everything until I came to the conclusion that I need to try something to change myself, so I gave it a shot. I liked it and I graduated. Now, look, here I am," he said.

It's believed that inmates with job skills are less likely to go out and commit other crimes and return to prison, so this program benefits not the just the inmates individually but the community as a whole.