The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) is proud to have its Vocational Training Center. Over the last year and a half, HCSO constructed a 10,000-square-foot facility that houses four new programs offered to inmates. Inmates can learn trades like welding, carpentry, forklift driving and basic automotive services.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) is proud to have its Vocational Training Center. Over the last year and a half, HCSO constructed a 10,000-square-foot facility that houses four new programs offered to inmates.

“Since stepping into my role as sheriff, I’ve always said, we cannot arrest our way out of crime,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “One of my first priorities as sheriff was to create a holistic approach to reduce the rate of recidivism in our community.”

Inmates are given the opportunity to learn trades like welding and carpentry. They can also learn how to operate a forklift and how to perform basic automotive services. The Vocational Training Center was built to prepare inmates for life after they finish their sentences.

“This vocational training program is part of a groundbreaking approach to reduce recidivism,” said Chronister. “Inmates who complete the curriculum will leave with a certificate in their chosen field. They’ll also receive help on how to build a resume so that they can apply for jobs and interview with prospective employers. Most importantly, they will have the skills necessary to gain employment so they don’t have to return to the life they once lived.”

The center had 17 inmates graduate from the various programs this past December. One recently released inmate notified his instructors that he had landed a job at a tire shop.

“I’m incredibly proud to see the progress these inmates have made in such a short amount of time, and I’m hopeful that by offering the chance to learn a trade, these individuals will use their new skill set to become productive members of our community after finishing their sentences,” said Chronister. “This is a huge step in our detention facility towards reducing recidivism.”

HCSO was thrilled to announce that it had its first women’s class to graduate from the agency’s Vocational Training Center.

“I am thrilled for these nine women as they embark on what will hopefully be the beginning of a new chapter in their lives,” said Chronister. “The goal of the Vocational Training Center is to make sure we provide inmates with an education and equip them with a skill set so they don’t have to find themselves back in here. With this certificate in hand, they can apply for jobs once they leave our jail and become productive members of our community. We now have 47 inmates who have graduated from our welding and automotive services programs.”

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Libby is a writer for The Osprey Observer/The Christian Voice. She started as an intern in 2009 and upon finishing her internship, she was asked to stay on as a permanent writer for both papers. Libby lives in Brandon with her two rescue dogs, Olive and Bogey.