Central Georgia Technical College (CGTC) is not new to working with the incarcerated population. The college’s Office of Re-Entry Services is dedicated to providing training in high-demand career fields to inmates. But a new pilot program goes beyond training.
The maintenance electrical plumbing (MEP) program at two state prisons launched a few months ago, and serves a dual purpose: inmates learn electrical systems, plumbing and carpentry skills while they improve the prison facilities.
“We really wanted to support Wilcox and Whitworth State Prison in their need for maintaining inmate living areas and employee work spaces,” said Brittany Lucas, the executive director of re-entry services at CGTC.
MEP is a 60-hour course is presented to both prison staff and inmates and results in students earning a certificate. It’s taught by an experienced instructor contracted by the college. Students at the facilities have constructed wall frames and navigated circuit breaker panels, circuits and conduits. In the next phases, they will be introduced to plumbing.
Upon completion, the certificate will be given to the inmates by the CGTC’s Economic Development Division.
“This certificate provides both prisons a skilled internal workforce, and gives staff and inmates employable, career-specific skills,” Lucas said.
A 2013 RAND report found that inmates who participate in correctional education programs had a 43 percent lower chance of returning to prison than those who did not.
CGTC also works with the Georgia Department of Corrections to offer forklift training to eligible inmates at both men’s and women’s facilities. The training allows formerly incarcerated citizens to leave prisons with skills for re-entry and opportunities for meaningful employment.
The college’s work with correctional facilities is part of a broader approach to economic development in the central Georgia region. In 2017, CGTC provided 46 percent of the customized contract training hours delivered in the state, according to a press release from the college.