Midland County Jail Looking at Inmate Job Training Program

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND COUNTY - A new program to help inmates stay off the streets once they leave jail could be coming to Midland County.

It's a shocking rate coming out of the Midland County Jail.

"80 to 85% of the people we handle come back," Sheriff Gary Painter, said. "I've got to find a way to stop it."

Sheriff Painter has a possible solution. It's called a jail industry program and it'll allow the county to give inmates job and life skills training while behind bars.

"How to handle a checkbook, how to handle money, how to get a job, how to interview," Sheriff Painter said. "These things are very basic that they've never learned, that they've never picked up so we're just trying to help."

One of the areas the program will focus on is the service industry.

Inmates can get certified from the state for a food handler's permit.

Sheriff Painter said it's a win-win situation for the inmates and businesses who may be struggling to find help during the boom.

"A fast food place, a restaurant or whatever and say 'Hey, I've received training and I have a certificate and I'm ready to go to work," Sheriff Painter said.

He's also hoping to expand the training in the future.

"Maybe get a garage built so we can maybe teach them mechanics or engine repair, how to do collision repair," Sheriff Painter said.

The program is voluntary but it's already buzzing with interest inside the jail walls.

And better yet, this won't cost taxpayers anything.

"The employee that will be in charge of the program will be paid for by commissary funds," Sheriff Painter said. "It'll be paid by the inmates."

The program has been successful in other jails across Texas.

Sheriff Painter will ask County Commissioners on Monday for the OK to get started with it and he already has high hopes.

"We wanna get these people out of jail," he said. "They will gain the confidence and the ability and the knowledge to go out and obtain a job and that's what we want."