Innovator of the Year Profile: OKC-Based Francis Tuttle Technology Center

Article excerpt

Cost of incarcerating a minimum-security offender in an Oklahoma prison - $16,000 per year.

The amount of earnings lost by this individual not being in the workplace - at least $20,000 per year.

Turning a young offender into a productive citizen - priceless.

Through its Young Probationer Construction Trades program, Francis Tuttle Technology Center strives to encourage young people away from a life of crime. The program is designed to help guide young Oklahomans (ages 18-29) to a better life by offering them skills training in a high-growth, high-demand and economically vital industry relevant to the Oklahoma and U.S. economies.

Participants also learn academic skills toward successful completion of a high school diploma or GED as well as a framework of critical life skills that many lack prior to their participation, all while helping to deter them from a life of crime. Life skills curriculum includes such things as teamwork on the job, conflict resolution, employment interviewing, basic money management and how to purchase a car or house as well as other skill sets these young people may not have acquired, but that are necessary for most citizens. In addition, students receive training for the Oklahoma Career Readiness Certificate (WorkKeys).

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education (CareerTech) Skills Center system has successfully integrated similar training for inmates throughout Oklahoma's prison system since the early 1970s. The results showed that once trained for a career, the vast majority refrain from criminal behavioral. …