Winnebago County inmates learn new skills while behind bars

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Winnebago County inmates could get the opportunity to learn another skill while serving their time.

The program, run by Rock Valley College, would teach inmates how to create screws, nuts and bolts. The “Cold Forming Training Program” is not new, but those attending the class would be.

Supporters said that it is a chance to give inmates a better opportunity to land a job once let back out into society.

“We want to help educate all aspects of the population,” said Rick Jenks, Chief Operations Officer at Rock Valley College.

Jenks said that the school has approved an expansion to its Cold Forming Training Program. The partnership with Winnebago County would allow a new source of students to take part.

“The advantage for us partnering with the county is that we can still educate those individuals who are incarcerated, but because of the space that we are going to be utilizing at the CJC, we’ll still have opportunities to schedule and teach those throughout the community who also need that additional training,” Jenks said.

Rock Valley College educators would teach the program.

“It’s a class that we taught in the past, and we’re looking to expand that [program],” Jenks said. “Offering training to those who might be incarcerated right now, so that they have a certification to help their ability to get employment once they’re released.”

The Public Safety Committee approved the program on Wednesday night, though the full board still needs to approve the plan.

“When you can actually have inmates in there learning a skill that they can use day one that they get out and back on the streets, so it is a great thing,” said Winnebago County Board Member Burt Gerl from the 15th District. “We’ve heard from manufacturers all over Rockford, Winnebago County asking for help to try and find employees that are trained or can be trainable, so this a great start.”

“Once we are sure that the agreement is going to go through, we will be moving the items there to the Criminal Justice Center, and it’ll take a little time to set up, get electrical hooked up, things of that nature,” Jenks added.

The board meets next Tuesday. Stay tuned to Eyewitness News for word on their decision with the program.

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