Barren County is partnering with a local industry to train jail inmates for life outside the fence.
Johnson Controls is establishing a training program for inmates to become certified HVAC technicians. The company and inmates will work to reduce energy costs in county-owned facilities.
Kentucky Labor Secretary and former Barren County Judge-Executive David Dickerson says the results will be two-fold.
“The community will have updated facilities that will be more maintenance and energy efficient, and then those savings that will be realized, will be used to fully fund the program to train the prospective employees that are presently behind bars," Dickerson told WKU Public Radio.
The goal of the training and re-entry program is to teach the inmates skills that will lead to employment after their time is served. Johnson Controls has done similar programs in other states which has contributed to a decrease in recidivism.
Low-level felons will receive classroom and hands-on instruction at a facility near the jail over the course of the six to 18-month program. While some inmates already do work on county-owned property, this is the first partnership with a private sector company. A launch date hasn't been announced.
The Labor Cabinet and other state agencies intend to launch similar programs statewide that would include a wide range of vocational training, including plumbing and electrical work.