Ga. prison adds $2.1M inmate job training center

Research has shown that inmates who are educated while in prison are 43 percent less likely to return to prison


By Terry Dickson
The Florida Times-Union

NICHOLLS, Ga.  Corrections Corporation of America will hold a ceremonial invitation-only groundbreaking Thursday for a new $2.1 million vocational training center at its Coffee Correctional facility in Nicholls, Ga., where inmates who are nearing their release dates will learn job skills.

Wiregrass Technical College will hire two full-time instructors to teach two programs, welding and diesel mechanics, on the prison site, said Lydia Hubert, a spokeswoman for the college.

Georgia Department of Corrections inmates are housed under contract at the 3,032 bed, medium security prison that CCA owns and operates. When the prison was first opened in 1998, it had less than 500 beds.

The groundbreaking is set just a few days before the Sunday beginning of National Reentry Week, a U.S. Justice Department initiative to highlight the importance of such programs in reducing the number of repeat offenders and increasing public safety, CCA said. Because of security concerns, the ceremony is not open to the public.

“When you have guys go out with the skills to get a job, they’re not re-offending,’’ CCA spokeswoman Bethany Davis said.

Research has shown that inmates who are educated while in prison are 43 percent less likely to return to prison, CCA said.

The company is paying for the 6,300-square-foot facility at Nicholls and has another underway at its Wheeler Correctional facility in Alamo, Davis said. Construction is expected to be compete on both in December, she said.

Coffee Correctional already provides training in masonry, carpentry, horticulture, office technology and truck-driving along with life skill programs and GED classes as CCA does at all of its five prisons in Georgia, Davis said.

Those who complete the Wiregrass programs will earn technical certificates of credit, Hubert said.

Once they are educated, the inmates won’t simply be shown the gate once they have completed their sentences, Davis said.

There are programs to reconnect them to the places they will live, and “ideally, work,’’ Davis said.

Nicholls Mayor Dewayne Streat said the prison has been good for the city and Coffee County and not just because of the 400 employees.

The city and other local officials worked hard to persuade CCA to build in Nicholls and put in a water and sewer treatment facility to serve it.

“They use about 83 percent of our water,’’ and the city wouldn’t even have a water and sewer operation without the prison, Streat said.

Because the prison is not government owned, it is not tax exempt, Streat said.

“They’re taxpayers, the second largest in Coffee County,’’ he said. “Anytime they build out there it’s great.”

Copyright 2016 The Florida Times-Union

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