For Immediate Release
January 25, 2018
DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla—Inmates incarcerated at the Walton County Jail are learning a craft that dates back to the middle ages.
Eight inmates, including Escambia county inmates currently housed in Walton County, are participating in a six-week on site welding class conducted by Northwest Florida State College.
Over that time, inmates will learn flux core welding and how to use tools such as a cutting torch and a plasma cutter. Those participating in the welding program will be tested as they progress in the course taught by NWFSC Adjunct Professor Scott Bennett.
“I love to teach and pass on my knowledge,” said Bennett. “If I can make a difference in their lives for better that’s all I could ask for.”
Walton County Sheriff’s Office is partnering up with Northwest Florida State College to work with Panhandle businesses like Eastern Shipbuilding Group and Gulfstream Shipbuilding to provide inmates employment opportunities when they are released.
“Our goal is to reduce the chance of these men to return to jail and increase their odds at a brighter future,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson. “Hopefully, they will see this as an opportunity to change their life when they return to the community.”
The idea to initiate a program came as the success of the Walton County Jail “grow program” grew.
“Changing lives is in everyone’s best interest,” said Adkinson.
The first inmates to go through the program are nearly a week into the six-week course. In the future, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office plans to start additional vocational opportunities such as heavy equipment operations.