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Michigan lawmakers look to Ionia County to rehabilitate prisoners

Michigan lawmakers look to Ionia County to rehabilitate prisoners
Michigan lawmakers look to Ionia County to rehabilitate prisoners
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LANSING, Mich. (SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP) - The correctional facility in Ionia County is teaching 180 prisoners valuable work skills for when they complete their sentence and enter the work force.

It looks like a welding shop and a business where you take your car to be repaired.

But what’s really happening here is the state of Michigan giving people opportunity and a second chance.

“Since the time I have been incarcerated this is the best environment that I’ve ever been in," said Mike Long.

Mike Long has served a five year sentence at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility.

His sentence is coming to a close, and when he leaves, he’ll have state certified carpentry skills all thanks to the new Vocational Village in Ionia County.

He says he thanks the warden every time he walks by.

“We are living in peace and harmony. Versus where a lot of places you don’t have the luxury," said Long.

Long is not alone.

“I hope to have six certifications when I leave," said Scott Day.

“I have received two licenses already. I’ve learned a lot of stuff," said Sean Bozich.

The Michigan Department of Corrections says prisoners here have been charged with crimes ranging from writing bad checks to murder.

The vocational school selects prisoners when they are typically two years away from completing their sentence.

And the goal is when they leave, they will hold marketable work skills when they enter back into society.

It’s a program that is receiving more state funds – something Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and Democratic State Representative Sheldon Neeley see eye to eye on.

“The quality of their life, I believe in their own perception has improved dramatically and people want that," said Gov. Rick Snyder.

“The overall goal is to return people back to society and this helps that goal," said Rep. Sheldon Neeley.

There are 12 vocational programs across Michigan just like this one. Some Michigan lawmakers are trying to secure money to add more.

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The Vocational Village even helps prisoners who earn certificate find jobs when their sentence is complete.

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