(Walhalla, SC)-------------------------------------Tri-County Technical College, in cooperation with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office, is using available technology to give State Correctional Inmates, who are currently housed at the Oconee County Detention Center, an opportunity to earn a Certified Production Technician Certification.
Currently, seven State Correctional Inmates are participating, online, in the Certification Program. Inmates that were enrolled in the program, are eligible, to return to finish the program after their release from incarceration. This is the first time in Oconee County history that a college has taught classes inside the Detention Center.
The Certification Program is part of Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw’s Leadership Vision and his long-term vision for Inmate Life Transformation and Success, which includes the “Life after Lock-Up” program.
“The opportunity for our State Correctional Inmates to earn this Certification is an expansion of our “Life after Lock-Up” program,” says Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw. “The Certified Production Technician Certification has proven to be successful as those who have graduated have found gainful employment in industry and manufacturing by learning the skills they need to be successful. We believe that those inmates who receive an education and obtain the skills employers’ desire will have a better chance to integrate back into society and reduce the rate of recidivism back into the legal system.”
Dan Holland, Cultural Awareness and Inclusion Director with the Sheriff’s Office, met with officials from Tri-County Technical College in regards to educational opportunities for employees with the Sheriff’s Office. The conversations also included making Certification Programming available online to State Inmates who are currently housed at the Oconee County Detention Center.
Money for the program was made available through a state grant from the South Carolina Department of Employment and Work Force.
“Investing in the lives of these Inmates through this Certification program far outweighs the cost to taxpayers for housing an Inmate in a jail or Correctional facility,” according to Sheriff Crenshaw. “We are providing these men the tools and skills not only necessary to secure a job, but to establish a career, be a taxpayer, and function as a productive citizen in our County and in our State.”
Sheriff Crenshaw says that two former State Correctional Inmates, who came through the Oconee County Detention Center and participated in the “Life after Lock-Up” program, hold jobs within Oconee County, including Jeremy Laboone, who upon his release earned an Associate’s Degree from Tri-County Technical College in 2022 and is employed as a Maintenance Mechanic with the Sheriff’s Office.
According to Sheriff Crenshaw, the Certification Program is a pilot program and with proven success, Sheriff Crenshaw will look towards further expansion of opportunities for Inmates to change their lives.