From TAMMY KEARCE
Five inmates of the Walton County Jail received heavy equipment operation certifications Tuesday, March 29.
Three of the five graduates, William Richardson, Caleb Jordan and Conner Maier, have already been released from custody but chose to return and receive the certificates with their classmates. “It [the certification] was challenging,” said Jordan. “But it’s worth the effort to have those skills.”
Recruiters from CWR Contracting Inc. were on site at the graduation collecting applications and answering questions related to employment. “Our employees are our greatest asset,” their website states, and “CWR invests in people.”
Other vocational opportunities for inmates include certificates from the American Welding Society (AWS), Safe Serve (food safety), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
“Here at the Walton County Jail, we are working to protect the public, maintain order and build better people,” said Operations Director Cory Godwin.
The jail’s vocational program was initiated in 2017 to reduce recidivism and provide inmates an opportunity to learn a new trade. Statistically, inmates who participate in educational programs whether it be GED classes, vocational training, or college degree programs, are up to 43 percent less likely to be incarcerated again, according to Rand.org, a nonprofit organization dedicated to research and analysis.
“We believe in recovery, not recidivism,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson. “And the vocational program is a way for the Sheriff’s Office to impact this directly.”
Many inmates also participate in the jail’s “Grow Program,” where they grow and process vegetables. They are currently harvesting more than 15,000 pounds of collard greens, which will be cleaned, cooked and eaten by inmates.