Vocational Village Named Newsmaker Finalist for 2016

Vocational Village Named Newsmaker Finalist for 2016

The Vocational Village, an innovative and first-of-its-kind program in the nation, was announced as a Newsmaker Finalist for 2016 by the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

The Vocational Village was envisioned and developed by MDOC Director Heidi Washington.

“This is an incredible honor and a testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff who have worked so hard this past year to make this a success,” Washington said. “At the Department of Corrections, one of our goals is Offender Success, and the Vocational Village is one of the primary ways we train and equip prisoners with the tools they need to be successful upon release. We are very thankful for this recognition."

The Michigan Department of Corrections launched the Vocational Village earlier this year and it has received attention across Michigan and across the country. At the Village, a select group prisoners who are serious about their education are housed together in one unit that acts as a therapeutic learning environment that supports their success.

While there, the prisoners have full days of training and classroom instruction intended to mimic a typical workday outside prison walls, and they earn state and nationally-recognized certifications in their trade.

At the village, the prisoners are trained in one of six, in-demand skilled trades: automotive technology, CNC machining, welding, building trades, plumbing and electrical.

The Vocational Village is located at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility, a level II, medium security prison in Ionia. When operating at full capacity, the Village has 165 vocational trade students, 27 vocational trade tutors and 12 building trade workers.

Thanks to funding from the Legislature, a second Vocational Village site in Jackson is expected to have capacity for more than 200 prisoners to enroll in skilled trades programming. It will open in early 2017 at the Parnall Correctional Facility in Jackson.

To learn more about the Vocational Village, watch a video of the program and listen to a podcast featuring an interview with prison warden DeWayne Burton, visit www.michigan.gov/vocvillage.