DuPage celebrates first grads from jail's Janitorial Work Program
Certificates in hand, the first eight DuPage County jail inmates have graduated from the DuPage County Sheriff's Janitorial Work Program.
The inmates proudly threw their blue caps into the air during a ceremony Monday afternoon inside the jail. They then were awarded with a pizza lunch.
Throughout the six-week course, inmates were taught the proper use of janitorial equipment and chemicals and put their skills to use cleaning sections of the jail that otherwise would have been cleaned by a professional crew.
Now that the inmates have their Custodial Technician Certification from the Cleaning Management Institute, they will begin working with JUST of DuPage Executive Director Michael Beary and programs such as workNet DuPage to find full-time jobs upon their release from jail.
Sheriff James Mendrick said the inaugural version of the program, which was funded entirely by grant money, was great for the health and safety of everyone in the jail and for the inmates' morale.
"We're serious about rehabilitation here. Our whole goal is to give these inmates a life outside of jail. We want them to better themselves while they're here," Mendrick said, "We want to give them stability so they can take care of their families. That's what this is about."
Beary congratulated the inmates for working together and helping each other through the program, and pledged to support them as they move on from the jail and back out into the world.
Inmate Charles Lawler, speaking for the class, read from a handwritten letter and praised the program, which is open to nonviolent offenders.
"As graduates, these skills learned, the techniques taught and the expert training we received in this highly demanding field gives us all that extra edge needed to land that career job and earn a livable wage," Lawler said.
"This experience taught us all teamwork and appreciation for others. It's given us a new sense of integrity and a motivation for success."
Beary said the next eight inmates have been selected for the program and will begin on Aug. 25 after a brief orientation.