UPDATE: First class of women welders graduates from Indiana prison program
Ten soon to be released inmates at Madison Correctional Facility graduated from a newly created welding program. The partnership teaches the women everything they need to know to get good paying, in-demand jobs once they're released.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- We first told you the story last month about a program that teaches female inmates at a southern Indiana prison about the ins and outs of welding.
Ten inmates at the Madison Correctional Facility in Indiana are learning to weld. They've now graduated from the program, and that accomplishment gives them hope for their futures.
Jessica Brackett is one of the newly certified welders who graduated from the program created specifically for Indiana inmates. "When you first pick up a welder, and it's the very first time you've done it and you've never done it before, it's a bit overwhelming," said Brackett.
With her family seated in the second row, Brackett mouthed a message to her three kids. She says she completed the program for them. "I just want them to see that people make mistakes and that it shouldn't define them, and that they can be a better person, and that I love them and do anything I can for them," said Brackett.
"I think she's a good mom no matter what and she tries her best to take care of us," said her daughter, Jayleigh Hudson.
Brackett is a prisoner at the Madison Correctional Facility. She's almost finished with an eight-year sentence. She, along with nine other soon-to-be-released prisoners, learned to weld at Ivy Tech. The partnership with the Indiana Department of Corrections taught the women everything they need to know to land good paying, in-demand jobs once they're released.
"It means that I'll be able to support my family without help, and that they'll be able to live a good life, and go to good schools and live in a safe home and have nice clothes on their back. And that's what I've worked for," said Brackett.
The intensive 80-hour course culminated with a graduation ceremony. Many of the women will be released within the year, including Brittany Young, the first student to make it through the class.
She went from praying in a prison cell to delivering the commencement speech. "Thank you for not giving me a lower sentence. I needed this five years. I needed to sit still. I needed to learn. I needed people to be proud and believe in me," said Young.
She is scheduled to be released on June 7 after five years behind bars. "I dealt drugs in order to make money. Now I have a job, a good job, I'm going to be able to pay bills, I'm going to be able to do everything I need to do to be successful," said Young.
In 2016, 27 percent of women released from Indiana prisons re-offended. Young is determined not to be one of those women. "It gave me every tool I need to have a job and succeed in the community," said Young.
As for Brackett, she's got employment pending, and hopes to be back home with her kids by the end of the year.
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