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Incarcerated young men learn cabling to prepare for bright futures

  • July 2, 2015
  • By: Tona Rowett

In the United States, two out of three prisoners return to prison within the three years after their release. The leading cause of this statistic? Unemployment. When I was on the Flagler College Enactus team, I worked on a project that helped solve this problem.

We worked with incarcerated young men ages 14 to 19 at St. John’s Juvenile Correctional Facility. A grant from the Florida Department of Education helped us send teachers for certifications to teach telecommunications and copper and fiber optic cabling. We chose this industry because not only is it forgiving of the men’s backgrounds, but it also pays up to $35 an hour.

After they get certified through C-Tech, the men get put into a database so that future employers can see their skill sets. The president of C-Tech was so impressed with the project that he came to St. Augustine to see it in action.

I worked to help mentor the young men, so I got to know a few of the participants’ stories. My favorite is of John, who worked with us to get his copper certification. After he was certified, the door system at the correctional facility went down. The workers didn’t know how to fix it, but they knew John was copper certified. He was able to use his newfound skills to fix the door. He got his diploma while at the facility and, with that and his certification, found a job within two months of his release.