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Department of Corrections breaks ground on newest Vocational Village

Women's prison
Michigan Department of Corrections

The Michigan Department of Corrections broke ground on Monday on a new Vocational Village – this time it’s for the state’s only women’s prison.

This will be the state’s third Vocational Village; they're skilled trades training facilities on prison grounds aimed at preparing inmates for careers.

The Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility’s Vocational Village in Ypsilanti is scheduled to open next year. Women will have the chance to learn about and get certified in areas like computer coding, cosmetology, and carpentry.

Heidi Washington is the director of the Michigan Department of Corrections. She says they worked to find programs that would be interesting to women.

“Judging from their reaction at the groundbreaking, I saw a lot of heads nodding and a lot of smiles and a lot of excitement for the opportunity to learn things like computer coding and 3D printing,” she says.

Two men’s prisons already have Vocational Villages. Washington says at the other two facilities, there is a roughly 70% employment rate of people who leave the village with a certification.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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