Inmates at FCC learn iron working skills

Published: Aug. 23, 2018 at 8:41 PM AKDT
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Fairbanks correctional center offers a number of educational programs to help inmates further their education, as well as skill training programs to help them find jobs on the outside and become successful members of society.

The Iron Workers Local 751 is working with the Fairbanks Correctional Facility this week teaching basic iron working skills. The 40 foot trailer is mobile, which gives the union an opportunity to reach a specific group of people with resources on hand. Their mission is to give inmates an opportunity that would not be offered anywhere else.

Business manager, Anthony Ladd, said, "There is nothing like it in the State of Alaska."

The mobile trailer is helping individuals make changes that will keep them out of the system and on to bigger and better successes.

"It's out of the box thinking and how it works it, it not only changes their attitude, just these gentleman in the three days that we were hanging out with them, the positive, the goals. They actually didn't even know they could get a job or that anyone would take them seriously, and now they have this opportunity and actually you see them looking forward to it. The skills they get and the conversations that we are having. We're hiring and firing people, so were telling you, you need to be on time, you need to be drug free be here and you need to be there, so they are getting a real introduction on what the job is going to be like," said Ladd.

Officer Howard the education director at FCC, works with countless inmates to help educate and offer skilled courses to set up a plan where released inmates can become contributing members of society. Many inmates have skills but some employers turn them away based on their unfavorable backgrounds. Howard spoke about the change that needs to happen.

"We have to have some kind of change when we get out of here, and we tried lots of different things. It's my personal feelings that education is one of those things that can help move them into another direction. We have to have some kind of change. It can be substance counseling, but the bottom line is, these guy need to make money. They got to make money for their families. They got to make money for themselves, maybe they need to pay restitution, maybe they need to pay child support. If they don't they go back to what they know. So education is the answer as far as I'm concerned. Education is the answer," said Howard.

Christopher Evans, a former inmate at the facility, received his GED so that he could participate in this program, and wants others who may be in the same position as him, to be encouraged to try a new skill.

"I have prior welding experience, and even with prior welding experience it's still hard to get certifications. Bringing this to places like this it gives guys a chance to get those certifications without having to go through outside companies and the first things they look at is your legal record. As soon as they see a felony on there, it right out the door you go. So this, this is pretty cool," said Evans.

Opportunities like what the Iron Workers brought to FCC gives inmates not only hope, but a chance to get their hands dirty and learn a new skills. They aim to break the cycle of recidivism and encourage them to make a positive change in their lives.

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