Inmates gain training for life after prison

By: Sabrina Ahmed 

Nebraska has a program that helps people get back on the right road. 

Yesterday, we told you about a program that knocks down old homes and builds new ones.  The twist comes when you hear who is doing the work!

“They need to have the ability to earn a living in order to succeed after incarceration,” Renee Bauer said.

Bauer said she's helping inmates through a program called Prairie Gold Homes.  They train incarcerated individuals to be construction workers who are certified in building houses, OSHA certified and CPR and first aid trained.

Bauer said the construction industry is booming in Nebraska.  It's also a field that is likely to hire former prisoners.

“When incarcerated individuals are released from prison, it's often very difficult to segue back into the job market.  People look at them a little bit differently—they know they've done something wrong—so they have a lot of challenges to overcome,” Bauer said.

To be eligible for the program, testing is required and the inmates need their GEDs.  It's a really competitive program.  For three open slots, 78 people applied.

The partnership with Urban Development to build these houses is not only really important for the people being trained, but also for the city of Lincoln.

“They understand the important of training the individuals that we train and the kinds of good it will do ultimately for our communities once our incarcerated folks are out and re-assimilated,” Bauer said.

Another plus for the program is they're tearing down dilapidated houses and building affordable housing all over the city.

Again, this is a really competitive program.  Bauer said she would love to see it grow, but that'll take some money.  To double the program that currently trains 8 to 12 people every 10 weeks, it would cost about 80,000 dollars a year.