If the corrections system works as it’s supposed to, the people in prison will go on to lead better lives and not return. A program the Illinois Department of Corrections runs with Lake Land College is preparing inmates for life outside by teaching them homebuilding skills.
The program’s students at minimum-security Taylorville Correctional Center build the frames for what’s become Habitat for Humanity homes, and in about 15 years, they have turned out 200 of them.
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David Sharpe, the construction occupation instructor involved, says it is rewarding work. “I’ve received phone calls from past students. They’ve told me they are currently remodeling houses,” Sharpe says. “I’ll tell you what… it means a lot to hear back from these students, to know you are making a difference.”
“My background's in design,” says inmate and student Randy Behnor, who says he is from the Decatur area. “I believe with the hands-on knowledge I’m getting through this program, it’s going to allow me to get into the construction field, and maybe even start my own business.” Behnor has been in prison for about two years and expects to get out in October.
That 200th frame will be trucked, in pieces, to the home site in Sangamon County.