Rob McClendon: Well nationally, statistics
show that after serving time, two out of three prison inmates will be re-arrested within
just a few years. And, when you consider the cost of keeping someone behind bars, which
ranges between $16,000 to $23,000 dollars annually, recidivism is an expensive and a
complicated problem. Breaking the cycle of crime and punishment is the goal of Oklahoma
CareerTech’s Skills Centers; an educational program designed to keep the prison gate from
becoming a revolving door. Keith Smith: There is no nine to five at this
workplace, just five to ten, to twenty to life.
Male Voice: We’ve got, I think, it’s 94 like those.
[sounds of equipment] Keith: And while many of them men would say
they’d trade almost anything to be on the outside again; as Willie Thompson says, they’re
learning a trade. Willis Thompson: It’s helping a lot of guys,
you know, especially the ones that are getting out.
Male Voice: This is one after its put together. Keith: With the possibility to be better,
and the chance to make it happen. Thompson: In here, if you’ve got a, get
a chance to get into a program you need to do it. It doesn’t make any difference what
it is, you need, need to do it. [sounds of inmates working]
Keith: They’re wrapping up all their hard work. Pastor Dolan Ivey is a man of the cloth
and has come to see the cabinet work before it’s delivered.
Pastor Dolan Ivey: And I was telling one of the other guys, I said, somebody who put all
this together was really thinking, because it, this is a great thing.
David Steele: Stay all day, you don’t leave early.
Keith: At this center, the supervisor is David Steele.
Steele: I hope to make it where they can say they ain’t in prison for the nine hours
they’re up here, because they’re up here making, learning a trade and making cabinets.
Keith: Cabinets for Community Fellowship Church. Pastor Ivey: God’s just really done some
great things. Keith: While the custom cabinets are for the
chapel, the skills they’ve developed are meant to keep them on the straight and narrow
upon release. Male Voice: Just to do one single one, probably
an hour on each one. Pastor Ivey: Well I tell you what, the work
that’s done here, I’ve been around woodwork quite a bit in my life and all, and, and what
I see here is just excellent work. Male Voice: For the Hammond’s church project.
Keith: Skills center supervisor Willie Tucker says true success is measured over time.
Willie Tucker: These guys stay in contact with their instructors, you know, quite often,
and it really makes us feel good when they, they call us.
Steele: They’ll call me on the phone and say, hey, I’ve got another job better than
the one they had before. And then when you hang up, it kind of means, it sure gives you
a good feeling to know that they’re making good money and taxpaying citizens of Oklahoma.
Pastor Ivey: It just lets you know, they’re really people just like us; they may have
made some mistakes in the past. You know, God’s willing to forgive people, and they’re,
they’re willing, you know, God’s willing to do that, and He’s done some great things.
You see their heart is in to what they’re doing.
Thompson: It means a lot. Keith: Helping sinners and saints.
Steele: I don’t know why in the world, but I like working in these prisons. I don’t
know, I don’t know what it is; I really enjoy working with these inmates, offenders,
convicts whatever you want to call them. I really enjoy working with them; I really do.
Rob: Offenders with technical and academic skills are less likely to return to crime.
Studies show that 75% of those completing a skills center program are not re-incarcerated
within 5 years of their release.