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Arizona construction company brings inmates into the workforce

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

PHOENIX — An Arizona construction company has partnered with a state-level program that brings crews of inmates into the workforce.

Over the past two years, Erickson Companies, based in Arizona, California and Nevada, has worked in conjunction with Arizona Correctional Industries to provide inmates with carpentry jobs.

“We had a million questions and were a little dismissive at first,” Erickson Companies’ Arizona General Manager Larry Butts told Builder Online.

After discovering the benefits and touring the a similar ACI operation, the company came around.

The opportunity provides the company a cheap source of labor and gives inmates work experience to help them find a job after release.

“It’s like a really long internship,” Butts said. “We’re able to train these guys, work alongside them, and at some point they’re going to get released. We’ve given them a skill…and a second chance.”

The work has also had a noticeable impact on the recidivism rate of the inmates who participate. According to the ACI website, the rate has dropped by 31.6 percent, reducing the burden on taxpayers.

Workers also earn minimum wage on the job. The earnings are divided among child support, room and board, spending money and a savings account.

The success of this kind of a program, and other similar ones, mirrors what President Donald Trump discussed during his State of the Union address about providing prisoners with more opportunities following their release.

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