North Sound News

Governor tours Monroe prison program to help inmates succeed when released

MONROE, Wash. — Gov. Jay Inslee visited a building technology class at the Monroe Correctional Complex that prepares students to become apprentices in the construction trades when they get out.

"I hopefully want to get a job in drywall finishing and just not come back," said student Michael Huckell.

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"We're a group of individuals that come in, sit down as a team and a family. We come together, we work and we get the job done," said student Alexander Sharp.

Inslee responded, "We know you guys are going to be our neighbors, right. We want good neighbors and there's no better good neighbors than having people with a job and a skill set. So, this is good for you, but it's good for everybody on the outside too."

The program is part of a branch of Edmonds Community College inside the prison walls. There is no word yet on how many inmates find jobs after they leave. But the Governor says a new law preventing companies from asking about criminal status first thing on job applications will help give them a chance.

"We banned the box this year, so you can at least get maybe an interview right, so you don't get weeded out just because you had time in this facility."

Monroe is also the scene of a tragedy. Corrections officer Jayme Biendl was killed by an inmate in January 2011.

Inslee also met with corrections staff.

"We still grieve for the loss that we suffered and it's a deep loss to this whole community. So, I think I can say that there has been a very resolute commitment to safety of people here but there is some still risk and these people are committed to their jobs," Inslee said.

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