Eleven Wisconsin inmates earned a welding certificate through the Second Chance program at Milwaukee Area Technical College in 2022. Since the program’s inception, nearly 100 inmates have been released.
Hienok Demessie, an African American inmate, is one of 11 men serving time at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections who became eligible for education grants. Before graduating in December, each student in this year’s graduating class completed 17 credits in one semester.
“Hopefully this is going to put me on the right track,” Demessie told TMJ4.
Demessie was sentenced to ten years in prison in 2019 after being convicted of arson and burglary. Three years later, he was given the opportunity to rebuild his life once he was released.
Since 2017, nearly 100 people have graduated from the MATC program, which aims to help them find work once they are released.
“If they don’t have an opportunity to learn something and have a job when they get out, chances are they are just going to repeat and end up back in prison,” said Guy Burazin, one of the instructors in the program.