Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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March 25, 2010

Job initiative prepares inmates for work

For seven hours a day, Monday through Friday, Lloyd Beets applies his college education as a business-technology major at his product inventory control job.

Using computers, Beets and 28 other employees keep track of all supplies coming in and out of the Miami Correctional Facility.

Beets, 26, can track garments being sent to Indiana’s 31 correctional facilities.

For the Kokomo native, the job comes naturally. However, his surroundings aren’t ideal.

Beets is a prisoner making 50 cents an hour for his labor.

He is one of hundreds of prisoners in the Indiana Department of Correction’s Prison Enterprises Network. PEN employs offenders to make goods and provide services to state agencies, political subdivisions, private businesses and citizens.

When he is released in 2017, Beets hopes to combine his previous education with his current schooling in office administration to make a living.

“I am a people person and this helps me to deal with people,” said Beets, who is serving time on drug charges and is enrolled in PEN’s 14-month apprentice program.

“It’s an opportunity for me to use the skills I learned in college and relate them to a real job. That’s what I want when I get out.”

Indiana’s Apprenticeship Program, facilitated through the U.S. Department of Labor, is the largest state prison program in the country and the cornerstone of the mission to teach a work ethic and job skills to offenders, said Ann Hubbard, public information officer at the prison.

She said the partnership between the USDOL Office of Apprenticeship and Indiana’s PEN Products was initiated in February 2006.

Of the reported 3,188 offenders housed at the Miami facility, 2,237 are currently enrolled in USDOL Apprenticeship programs, added Hubbard.

The offender workers are involved in several jobs within PEN Products, including the Braille program, soap shop, garment shop, and wire-harness shop.

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