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Michigan Department of Corrections breaks ground on first Vocational Village site for women

The Michigan Department of Corrections began construction on its first Vocational Village site for women following a groundbreaking ceremony today at Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility. The Vocational Village is a first-of-its-kind skilled trades training program that prepares prisoners for careers in high-demand fields. It offers a positive learning community for prisoners who live, work and attend classes alongside one another, and share the common goal of improving their lives through education and training. Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility is the state’s only prison for women. The Vocational Village at the facility will have the capacity to train up to 180 prisoners in fields that will include computer coding, carpentry, cosmetology, 3D printing and graphic design. “The majority of those in prison will be paroled and they need stable jobs in order to succeed in their communities,” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “The expansion of the successful Vocational Village program will help us prepare more of our returning citizens for high-demand careers and a better life in the community, while reducing the risk of returning to prison.” Participants must meet measurable goals and will receive nationally-recognized certifications in their trade upon successful completion of their courses. More than 70 percent of prisoners who complete training at the Vocational Village secure and maintain employment. The Vocational Village at Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility will be the state's third site for the program overall. The MDOC opened its first Vocational Village at Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in 2016 and a second site opened at Parnall Correctional Facility in 2017. “We’re excited to expand this important program to include skilled trades training for incarcerated women who will be returning to our communities,” MDOC Director Heidi Washington said. “When these prisoners obtain the education and skills they need to secure work in growing fields, they have better chances for long-term success. That means our communities are safer and the lives of prisoners and their families are improved.” Construction on the 27,000-square-foot site, which includes renovations to 10,000 square feet of existing building space, is expected to be completed in 2019.