Program progress was celebrated at Warren County Jail on Monday night during an open house showing off the new program room.
An old file room at the jail has been converted into a classroom for the inmate TCAT programs. This project has been going on for a while, and County Commissioner and TCAT instructor Randy England was pleased it is finally ready. He says they are the only jail in the state that offers programs like this for inmates.
“We got together and decided we wanted to do something for inmates and our sheriff was on board 110% and the County Executive and everyone was on board and wanted to try this,” said England. “We found out that in all the counties in Tennessee we are the only county that has ever tried anything like this.”
England thanked commissioners for their support for the programs and for approving the purchase of a new Snap-On tool kit that will teach multi-meter reading.
“When I asked to buy this certification kit and it was almost $8,000 I did not have one no vote. That is $8,000 of taxpayers’ dollars that are going to be well, well spent,” said England.
Snap-on industrial account manager Jim Walpert was also at the open house and said inmates are being taught the same classes they take at TCAT and they have to score a 70% or better to pass. He says these programs help fill a need in the community by providing workers.
“Sheriff Myers and I were talking and not only is it putting these guys to work, there is a huge need in the industry for people. They can’t find the people for the jobs that are out there. This is filling a need in the community,” said Walpert.
England said he invited some former inmates who did the programs to come to the open house and speak, but they were working, which he said is a good thing. He says they want the inmates who took these classes to come to TCAT once they are released and further their education.
County Executive Jimmy Haley says he spoke to Tennessee Corrections Institute executive director William Wall and said he praised the programs.
“One statement he said was some people said we have been soft on crime he said you have been hard on correcting what has been neglected for so long and are actually making changes in people’s lives. You have gone from probably one of the bottom five jails in Tennessee on the verge of being decertified and shut down to the top five,” said Haley.
Commissioner Ron Lee said the programs are a work of love for the county and he is happy the new classroom is ready.
“This has been a work of love for Warren County because some of the people out here are good people who made bad choices and if we could just give them a little redirection,” said Lee.
The classes taught by Russell Veech in the new classroom should be ready to start in the next few weeks.
They are waiting for a few pieces of equipment, then things will be ready to go.