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As more people vote absentee in Hinds County and prepare to hit the polls on Election Day, more personal protection equipment can always be used. “COVID is an issue right now, and we want everyone to be safe. Voting is such an important thing. We want to make sure everyone feels comfortable where they are going,” said Kim Lewis, with Visit Jackson. Mississippi Prison Industries donated hand sanitizer and 12,000 masks to all 108 precincts in Hinds County. “All of this is handmade by our guys at our facilities. The purpose of what we do is to give job opportunities to our inmate population to ensure that they have skill sets that can translate out to when they get released,” said Mississippi Prison Industries CEO, Bradley Lum.

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Gold Standard Truss is partnering with the Indiana Department of Correction to give incarcerated individuals at Westville Correctional Facility a unique opportunity. A plant built inside the prison's walls is designed to allow incarcerated individuals to learn manufacturing skills and potentially earn a job opportunity after release. "They'll be learning how to build walls, build roof trusses and build floor trusses," said Brent Kaper with Gold Standard Truss. "We also intend to kind of expand that training program to framing carpentry itself, so actually how to then install what they've built and how to stand them up in the field, put them all together and build a house." The nearly $1.5 million investment turned the once-empty building on the prison grounds into a first-rate manufacturing facility about the size of a football field that will employ about 30 inmates beginning next month. 

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“Future Ready Iowa’s Employer Innovation Fund is centered around a grassroots effort to solve local workforce challenges while helping Iowans find economic opportunity in their community,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds says. “These programs not only help those affected by the pandemic, they will also focus on recruiting our minority and underrepresented communities to help us diversify our workforce and provide equal chances for success for all Iowans.” Through this initiative, Iowa Prison Industries was awarded $100,000 which will be used to provide vocational training to men incarcerated at the North Central Correctional Facility in Rockwell City. Those who are being released soon will receive training, testing, and work opportunities leading to an American Welding Society qualification and OSHA 10 certification.

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