New State Correctional Program for Skilled Trades Draws Attention
State Representative Joel Johnson (Chair of the Committee on Workforce & Talent Development) and Senator Judy Emmons hear from the Vocational Village’s carpentry instructor.

State legislative leaders and several HBA staff members, including HBA Michigan CEO Bob Filka, HBA Political Affairs Director Dawn Crandall and several local EO’s participated in a recent Open House at Ionia State Prison. The occasion was to take a close look at the State’s new “Vocational Village” designed to help train and prepare the state’s best behaved prisoners for real jobs when they are released.

Inmates from around the state apply to be enrolled in the program; must have a clean record while serving time; must be ready for release within 24 months; and show aptitude in one of the vocational areas of the program. More than 200 prisoners from around the state are now part of the program. They live together in a special area of the prison and they are all about hard work and learning a skill that can help them get a second chance when released.

After spending a good portion of the day with them, their instructors and their warden (among others), your HBA leaders all came away thinking these guys are (and will be) higher quality applicants than most are getting through “normal” employment channels right now. In fact, major corporations like Haworth and others were there at the open house as well.

If your company has a job opening and you might be interested in trying to fill it with someone who has gone through this program, please contact Dawn Crandall in our state office at 517-646-2567. There is also a special bonding and tax credit program for those who are willing to hire these individuals when they leave prison. l