SANDERSON, Fl. — Inmates from across the state traveled to Baker Correctional Institution to compete in the first ever Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) inter-institutional inmate masonry competition. Seven teams from various Florida correctional institutions showcased their masonry skills, judged by members of the Florida Masonry Apprenticeship and Educational Foundation (FMAEF).
“This is a perfect model of how we are trying to take our rehabilitation programming and actually have it contribute to restoring the men and women under our care back to their communities with a skill that can immediately result in employment,” said FDC Secretary Mark S. Inch. “This competition demonstrates the skill that meets industry standards for immediate employment. We have skilled instructors that are following industry standards, and we have great support from the business community; both from professional and educational organizations.”
Masonry competitions are used industry-wide to highlight the quality, skill and fidelity of masonry education programs. FDC’s masonry programs offer industry-recognized certifications through rigorous coursework and hands-on experience. This training program equips inmates with the skills necessary for employment. Prior to release, inmates are paired with industry professionals through FMAEF to assist with immediate employment opportunities.
Bradley Kibbe, Executive Director, Florida Masonry Apprenticeship and Educational Foundation, said, “This event brings people together from our industry, from the Department of Corrections, local schools and different agencies, masonry contractors… to let everybody see the work that’s going on within the Department of Corrections to train people to be workforce ready when they’re eligible to come on out and join us in the workforce.”
Paul Rivers, President, Northeast Florida Masonry Chapter said, “I’ve seen these guys grow. Now, we’re having over a dozen guys that are coming together that have skills that we can put together and continue to hone once they are out of here… Most of these guys when they come out they’re thankful to one have a job, and two, to be doing a job that they’ve worked on… so we try to help that and keep motivating these guys because we know it’s hard, it’s a big lifestyle change.”
At the conclusion of the competition, guest judges from the masonry industry awarded the team from Baker Correctional Institution with top honors, followed by Columbia CI Annex and Hamilton Correctional Institution.