Gov. Nathan Deal is scheduled to attend the grand opening of Hall County Correctional Institute’s welding shop on Sept. 19.
The opening of the facility is the result of an ongoing partnership between Hall County Government, Lanier Technical College and WorkSource Georgia to provide inmates with a skillset that will attract employers and hopefully lessen the probability of an offender returning to prison.
“We felt like this was a great opportunity to provide marketable job skills to offenders returning to our County through our R.E.A.C.T. (Reentry Accountability Court Transition) program,” said Warden Walt Davis.
Hall County’s R.E.A.C.T. program, the first of its kind in the state, was implemented in 2014 and focuses on state inmates returning to Hall and Dawson counties. Programming consists of substance abuse treatment, as well as educational and vocational training. Participants also receive on-the-job experience while working with local businesses once they have progressed to the work release portion of the program. The purpose of the program is to help inmates find gainful employment in an effort to reduce recidivism rates.
The welding shop is located in the old Correctional Institute building on Barber Road, directly behind the current facility. Inmate labor was used to outfit a portion of the old building with six welding bays and eight used welding machines, which were donated by Lanier Tech.
“Lanier Tech was upgrading their equipment, so we were able to acquire those machines at no cost,” said Davis.
Additional materials used to convert the old space were paid for using funding from the County Correctional Institute Educational Incentive Plan, which is a part of Gov. Deal’s criminal justice reform program.
Offenders will graduate from the three-month-long welding program with both a national and state welding certification.
The grand opening is set for 3 p.m. at 1694 Barber Road in Gainesville.