EDUCATION

Prison program helps inmates learn life skills

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Alisa Smedley grew up visiting her father, a convicted murderer, in prison. He was incarcerated when she was 10.

After serving a fifteen-year sentence, Smedley says her father was shackled to his past as he tried to find work as an ex-convict.

“They saw him as a violent threat,” she says.

Smedley is back in prison, but this time as a career coach to help inmates just like her father. Smedley says she's dedicated her life to helping these inmates because she knows first hand the difference it will make.

Larry Harrison turned himself in on a second degree murder charge and is now serving time at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility.

“I'm actually thankful for being here,” he says.

Thankful for the chance to turn his life around with the help of Smedley and the one-stop work program that gives inmates the confidence and tools to find and maintain employment.

Harrison now knows how to explain his conviction to employers.

And a convicted drug dealer, who is not being identified, says he's learning there are ways to make money away from the streets.

At a cost of $50,000 a year to keep the program running, warden Robert Green says there's a big return on the investment in terms of saving money and public safety.

"We know that after 30 days, if these inmates don't find a job, they'll end up right back here and it will cost us even more,” Green says.

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