Women at Indiana state prison propose construction training program to fix abandoned homes

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abandoned houses
Abandoned homes in Indiana (Lotzman Katzman, http://flickr.com/lotzman)

A group of inmates at the Indiana Women’s Prison are awaiting approval from the Department of Corrections after lawmakers have approved their proposal to start a training program that will give the women an opportunity to learn construction skills while helping the city fix abandoned homes.

Called Constructing Our Future, the program also aims to provide assistance to women who often find themselves stuck in the prison cycle. It hopes to equip women with skills they need to build new, crime-free homes upon release.

“They said, I had to go back to my abusive husband, I had to go back to the neighborhood with a lot of drugs, I didn’t have much of a chance,” said Vanessa Thompson, an inmate who came up with the program after seeing Mayor Joe Hogsett’s housing rehabilitation campaign in 2015.

Constructing Our Future will require each participant to render at least 5,000 hours of work. They will be taught construction methods and techniques by working with crews around the city to fix blighted homes.

Moreover, Thompson said that participants of the program will be carefully selected. “You have to show that you have character and that you’re really willing to work towards this goal,” she told Fox59.

In the spring, the women behind the program made a video presentation that was presented to state lawmakers. After hearing their proposal, officials said they are agreeable to the plan.

While the inmates wait for the DOC’s decision, they continue to raise funds for their program. To date, they have already accumulated close to $11,000 through a GoFundMe campaign. The money will be handled by staff instructors who oversee the group.

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