Last week Corridor Business Retention & Workforce Partnership Coordinator Joanne Follon and Bob Becker, Spencer IowaWORKS, traveled to the North Central Correctional Facility in Rockwell City. They had the opportunity to meet with Daniel Clark, Director of the Iowa Prisons Industry (IPI) Program and see the IPI training programs available for inmates to gain the education, soft and hard skills needed to be successful citizens upon their release.
There are three private-sector work partnerships available through the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program:
1) employers transport offenders to/from the workplace
2) employers subcontract with IPI
3) employers set an operation inside a prison. The State of Iowa is certified to provide inmates for private business, providing the business meets state and federal guidelines.
To be eligible for this program, offenders must be scheduled for release within three years.
"From the onset, I was impressed with the cleanliness of the facility itself, the friendliness of the staff and inmates within and the amazing training opportunities being provided to equip the soon-to-be released inmates," said Becker after the visit. "The facility offers some 25 fully Department of Labor approved Registered Apprenticeships in everything from the traditional trades like plumbing, HVAC and electrical, to other skilled trades such as information technology, maintenance repair and even a dog training program to train dogs as therapy animals! I was amazed at the fact that minimum security is needed as the prisoners are on their best behavior and they are extremely motivated to accelerate their release time."
The prison operates as a fully self-funded operation in that contracts with businesses to provide valuable services such as D.O.T. truck equipment repair, refurbishing and replacement of rusted pieces, powder coat repair and heat treatment to cure the paint. Additionally, compactor parts for garbage trucks are fabricated and welded in the facility. Inmates receive a working wage and the remaining profits cover the expenses of the prison.
"It is truly amazing that such a highly skilled workforce stands at the ready to be hired by employers wise enough to give returning citizens a second chance," says Becker.
The private employer provides all training, and in many cases have offered jobs to the offenders upon their release. If you are interested in learning more about the IPI Program please contact Joanne Follon at