New Sunrise Employment Center gives prison inmates hope for the future

Sunrise Employment Center at Lewis Prison in Buckeye is a new employment facility to help former inmates prepare for the job market.

BUCKEYE, Ariz. -  Governor Doug Ducey toured the Sunrise Employment Center at Lewis Prison in Buckeye Monday morning. It’s one of three facilities in the state designed to help inmates prepare for the job market after serving their sentence.

The hope -- good job opportunities to prevent repeat offenders.

“It’s good for public safety. If you can take people re-entering society and put them in a position where they don’t reoffend," Ducey said. "They have a job and can lead to a fulfilling career. Where they have a paycheck and they don’t do something stupid, dangerous or violent. It makes our state a safer place to live." 

Currently, 100 inmates live on the grounds of the employment center which used to be a juvenile facility. Each inmate is serving the last 60 days of their sentence while going through the job preparation program.

The inmates have a record of good behavior and a willingness to participant to be in the program.

"It’s the right thing to do. These people served their time and paid their debt to society. They need an opportunity,” Ducey said.

The inmates create resumes, learn interview and communications skills and receive job training in the construction, agricultural and hospitality industries. For the inmates, it's more than a job opportunity -- it's hope.

“Got to know your past to know where you’re going. I don’t glorify it, but I know where I came from-- but I also know where I want to be," said Plez Taylor, an inmate at the Lewis Prison. "I'm just looking to push my future forward in positive endeavors in a positive way.”

Taylor is learning the electrical trade.

“After we pay our debts to society, a lot of times they shun us," said Dameon Morgan, an inmate at the Lewis Prison. "These guys are saying they are not going to shun us. They give us an opportunity to be productive members of society again. That's really what a lot of us really want." 

Since March, more than 100 inmates statewide are employed after completing the program. Turning around a once dark part of their lives toward the light at the end of the tunnel.

“If you give someone an opportunity and they have the right habits and make the right decisions. They don't go back to prisons. They become a good tax-paying responsible citizen," Ducey said. "Providing in our society, rather than being [in prison] where our tax dollars has to pay to feed, clothe and bed them. This is the right thing to do. It’s good for the state budget. These dollars can be used elsewhere.”

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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