Program for released inmates doubles its impact

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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - The Department of Corrections says 90 percent of state inmates get released at some point.

With more than 23,000 inmates in Wisconsin prisons right now that's a large potential pool of people to contribute to the workforce.

A statewide program that those inmates hold a job just received a $250,000 budget increase.

Inmates at Oshkosh Correctional told Action 2 News Tuesday they're ready to work once they get released.

"Dry walling. I'd like to get back to dry walling," said an inmate named David.

"Mostly factory," said another inmate, Mike.

Workforce Development Boards want all that potential put to proper use...

"Individuals that come from a mechanical background, skills trade, I even had someone that had double masters degree," said Brent Sanderfoot, Fox Valley Workforce Development Board.

...helping to fill Wisconsin's workforce shortage.

"They can be real assets to companies that give them a chance," said Sanderfoot.

The "Windows to Work" program has provided skills for inmates to attain and keep jobs for the past 15 years.

Recent Department of Corrections numbers show 14 percent of inmates taking part in "Windows to Work" ended up back in prison.

The reincarceration rate for those who didn't use the program was 20 percent.

"Refresher for guys who get to go home and start a new life," David said. "It gives people on the streets a chance to see people are doing something to better their lives."

Inmates can start working with the program 6 to 9 months before being released and a year after.

"Get them the resources they need, whether it'd be gas money or work clothes," said David.

And with an increased budget, the program in the Fox Valley can now work with double the number of inmates being helped at Oshkosh and Redgranite correctional institutions.

"Give us all a shot and let us show you that we're trying to do better," said David.

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