Gibson Co. inmates get chance to earn manufacturing certifications

GIBSON COUNTY, Tenn. — A new program could help inmates find a job after they get out of jail.

Inmates learned manufacturing skills Tuesday at the Gibson County Jail. Corneilus Roberson is one of 10 inmates currently enrolled in the Re-entry Advanced Manufacturing Program, or RAMP.

“It’s a lot of hands-on, a lot of computer working,” Roberson said.

Inmates can earn certification through the Tennessee College of Applied Technology and hopefully land a job in manufacturing after they are released.

“Anybody that has these credentials are going to be looked at closer than someone else,” Northwest Tennessee Workforce Board Executive Director Margaret Prater said.

Gibson County Sheriff Paul Thomas said they hope to keep people from coming back to jail. “I hope we produce men and women from jail that are prepared to go back to work,” he said.

It takes about eight months to complete the program. Thomas said participants are nonviolent offenders with no disciplinary issues for a certain amount of time. “We’re trying to look for those that are within 12 months of getting released, those that have a history of work,” Thomas said.

Roberson said his expectations have changed because of the program. “I want to learn a lot, and I want to beneficial myself to be a better man for my family and for myself,” he said.

The first class launched June 1.

Organizers said they hope to serve 50 people by the end of this month.

Prater said a federal grant worth about $146,000 made the program possible. Organizers said the American Job Center will also help participants work on their resumes and prepare for interviews.