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Training program builds inmates' job skills

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Posted at 11:59 PM, Nov 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-29 07:30:52-05

CROWLEY COUNTY, Colorado — Nearly 20,000 people are incarcerated in state-run and private prisons in Colorado. The vast majority of those inmates will be released when they complete their sentences.

A new program at the Crowley Count Corrections Facility operated by Core Civic hopes to make that transition more successful by teaching inmates valuable job skills before they're released.

The Home Builders Institute (HBI) Construction Career Training Program teaches inmates carpentry skills that they can use when applying for work.

Devin Castro recently put in an application for a halfway house and signed up for the first HBI course at Crowley County.

His enthusiasm for the program is easy to notice.

"This is an in-construction dog house, it's a little bit tall but we're going to make it two levels," he said.

Castro is one of more than a dozen inmates enrolled in the program. One of the earlier lessons involves building a wall and putting up drywall.

Castro said the drywall lesson was particularly memorable.

"As soon as I got done with my wall, he was like alright, are you ready and then he hit it with a hammer, I was like ahh, yeah okay."

The lesson that followed was patching drywall. On Wednesday the HBI students held a graduation ceremony. The students received industry-recognized certificates qualifying them for jobs in a variety of construction jobs.

"HBI as a company has a really good placement percentage, I believe it's over 80 percent that they're able to place the folks that graduate from this program," explained Warden Barry Goodrich.

The HBI students can also access pre-apprenticeship training, other certification programs, and job placement services

The program lasts 12 weeks and Goodrich said there is a screening process for which inmates can participate.

"You have to be less than 18 months on your sentence, you can't have any write-ups or COPD infractions," Goodrich said. "That means that you're compliant and you're doing what you're supposed to be doing"

While this program was designed to teach specific job skills, Castro said it's given him something much more valuable; hope.

"I'm only 23 years old and my future, it's been kind of dim. I didn't really know what I wanted in life and I never really knew what I wanted in general, I just kind of winged it a lot most of my life. But now that I have this I know that I actually have a future."

"Goodrich hopes to enroll four HBI classes each year, graduating between 50 and 60 inmates.