WC hosts workforce training program for prison inmates

The logistics class, as shown here at Lindsey State Jail in Jacksboro, is part of Weatherford College’s educational program to help inmates land jobs after their release.

Weatherford College has started an educational program to help inmates at the Lindsey State Jail in Jacksboro land jobs after release.

Through this program, inmates can be certified as logistics associates and logistics technicians and work in warehouses and distribution centers, WC Workforce Education Program Coordinator Hayden Harbold said. Since there is a need for workers in this field, employers may be more willing to look past an applicant’s criminal record if they are certified.

“There’s a huge need for logistics technicians in just the whole region in general,” Harbold said. “There’s not enough skilled labor to go around for all these distribution centers that are popping up.”

Also, the courses are more suitable to be taught in prison because materials and tools aren’t needed, Harbold said.

Having the certifications allows the chance for inmates to be employed and live normal lives after being released and meets a community college’s goal of spreading education, Harbold said. At a graduation ceremony at the prison, inmates seemed thankful and excited for the opportunity to be educated.

“These dudes actually have a chance,” Harbold said. “They’re not getting out of prison with nothing to lean back on.”

As of last week, Lindsey State Jail has about 1,025 inmates, though that number changes daily, Warden Grady Wallace said. The average sentence amount is 180-200 days, and inmates usually are charged with state jail felonies or are institutional transfers.

The classes started last month, and the foundational logistics associate class finished up a few weeks ago. The logistics associate class is 40 credit hours and the logistics technician class, which is more advanced, is 48 credit hours, Harbold said. The logistics associate class was held three times a week for four hours.

Inmates sign up for the class if they meet certain criteria, such as being within two to three months of release after completing the program and have to meet certain educational requirements, Wallace said. The interest in the program has increased because inmates who took the class have talked positively about it to their peers.

Classes will continue as long as there’s a need, Harbold said. The courses are funded by the Workforce Solutions of North Texas through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

It is a priority at Lindsey State Jail, run by Management and Training Corporation, to assist offenders so that they are successful after release, Wallace said.

“If they come to our facility and they don’t have a high school diploma or a GED, we’re going to get them in class and try to help them accomplish getting a GED before they are released back to society,” Wallace said. “We have vocational programs as well. If they’ve already got a GED, we put them in a vocational program to try to get them some experience that can help them be successful when they get out.”

Wallace and his team reached out to the college about logistics training to connect inmates with guaranteed jobs, such as at Walmart and Amazon, after release. After completing the program, other opportunities are available to inmates like housing assistance through the Texas Workforce Commission, Wallace said.

Helping inmates become productive members of society can aid public safety, Wallace said.

“In my mind, there’s no better way to provide public safety than to change the mindset of someone who’s fixing to be released back to society,” Wallace said. “If they have opportunities available to them — a job, a good job that they can make a living at, housing that’s available to them, a foundation and reconnecting with their families right there — those are the things that are going to help them do the right thing when they get out.”

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