Jail inmates receiving special job training

Jail inmates receiving special job training

The Walton County Jail houses 207 prisoners from Escambia County. Now some of those inmates are getting life-changing training.

The goal is to give these inmates job training so that they will stay on the right side of this fence once they leave the county jail.

A teacher who can spark a change - one of the greatest gifts someone with an imperfect past can get.

James Williams is in the first welding class available to inmates at the Walton County jail.

The Escambia County resident has a wife and two kids.

"It's very hard right now, not helping them financially. So yeah, it's hard on me every day, but I'll be home soon," Williams said.

The program - all made possible by a $20,000 investment by the sheriff's office, is run by Scott Bennett, a teacher at Northwest Florida State College.

"I love to teach people and being able to teach these guys a skill, that will enable them to get out of here and not come back. And it gives them something to look forward to, that's what I look forward to," Bennett said.

The course he teaches gives the eight inmates in the program a basic welding certification, allowing them to get well-paying jobs after they finish their sentence.

"If they can go pass a weld test, it shouldn't be an issue to get a sales job. there's a ton of welding jobs out there," Barrett said.

It also means less expense in the long run.

"If we can make these people better people when they leave here than when they came in, then we all win as a society," said Deann Bertram with the Walton County Sheriff's Office.

The program will help Williams seven weeks from now when he gets out.

"Financially, it can help me out a lot. And they were happy to see me doing something in here, unlike other people, you know? At least I'll get a trade, something to get out of jail with," Williams said.

And stay out for good.

"I hadn't come back here for 14 years. This is my first charge in 14years. So I know I can do it, it's not hard," Williams said.

Once they finish the six-week course, they will be qualified for many jobs. As a matter of fact, the sheriff's office has begun to line up jobs for them with eastern shipyard and gulfstream shipbuilding.

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