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Nueces County, Del Mar College partner to train inmates for construction work

The program can accommodate up to 15 students every six weeks.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Nueces County Sheriff's Office and Del Mar College are working together to give inmates training to join the work force. 

Officials gathered at the Nueces County McKinzie Jail Annex to announce a program that has already turned out four inmates who have graduated from a grant funded construction industry job training class. 

"I think I would have gone out with this certification and joined a carpentry team. Eventually try to work my way up to my own carpentry business," said trainee Jeremy Pena.

Pena said that the skills will be valuable to him because he wants to go to school for a business degree.

"I want to go to school for business and I want to put this and business together," Pena said. 

Pena's parents know about the program and are very hopeful it makes a difference in their son's life. Nueces County Sheriff  J.C. Hooper said it could make a difference in a lot of inmates lives."

"Many of the people that they're picking up for day labor, they've been here," Hooper said. "So why not? While that person is here give them basic skills in safety, job site safety, vocabulary is a big thing, basic fundamental tool use. Then, one of the most important pieces to this whole program is Del Mar College has a placement component."

Lenora Keas, Executive Vice President and CEO of Del Mar College, said the skills that are being taught will provide inmates with ability to get good paying jobs. 

"We know by working with the local industry that carpentry and the skills related to carpentry are in great demand," Keas said. "We work with the Texas Workforce Commission in defining the in-demand jobs that are needed within our local area. And these are those jobs."

The program is funded by a grant from the Texas Workforce Commission for inmates who qualify. For those who don't meet those requirements and still want the six week training, the county will pick up the $270 cost per student.

"I've only told my parents so far," Pena said. "Just told them and they're actually very proud of me. That it's a really good thing that I'm doing something good with my time in here, and they hope that I use it in the outside."

The program can accommodate up to 15 students every six weeks.  

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