New programs at Taycheedah help female inmates find jobs after prison

By  | 

TAYCHEEDAH, Wis. (WBAY) - New programs and opportunities at Taycheedah Correctional Institution in Fond du Lac County give inmates the best chance to succeed once they're released.

Inmates nearing their release at Taycheedah Correctional create resumes and search for jobs at a recently opened Job Center on the prison grounds (WBAY photo)

For years, Taycheedah Correctional Institution has offered some vocational training for inmates to use when they are released. But just recently, with additional funding, and a collaboration between the Department of Corrections and the Department of Workforce Development, the female prison has added more programs.

"The ladies that live here really need assistance with preparing for release. When they release into the community there are so many obstacles for them to be successful and really finding gainful employment, that offers a living wage is one of those obstacles," says warden Sarah Cooper.

One of those programs is a Mobile Welding Lab. Eight women at a time participate in the program which teaches the basics of welding, leaving the inmates with a foundation for future employment.

Matt Virtanen is the welding instructor. He says, "This is training them for an entry level welding position, so when they get out they have the criteria met to be able to walk into a shop and say, 'Hey, I have training in welding, formal education. Here's my certificate, I can prove it to you."

But the work being done in the welding lab is about so much more than the training. It's also giving graduates confidence to succeed outside of prison.

According to inmate Amanda Franzen, "I'm going to get a job as a welder. I want this, I want it and I want to even further with it and probably get a job and keep continuing with education and expand this."

The recently opened Job Center, also on the Taycheedah grounds, will help with that placement. The Job Center gives inmates who are close to their release dates an opportunity to create a resume and begin applying for jobs, once again leading them down a path to be successful.

"This is my second incarceration, and I feel like I failed in a lot of manners because I wasn't set up for success prior to leaving," inmate Jessica Townsend says, "and being able to reach out to the community, prior to release is a big step."

Because statistics show, people are less likely to re-offend if they find purpose on the outside.