Andres Gutierrez, NBC 5 News
Dallas County has opened a print shop as part of a vocational program that trains inmates how to work in the shop.
Some Dallas County Jail inmates are working in a print shop as part of a new vocational program.
The vocational program recently started by Sheriff Lupe Valdez offers in-house printing -- anything from business cards to brochures -- to Dallas County employees.
"We want to be able to meet the some of those challenges by helping the folks that come in here ... to be able to obtain the skilled labor and be able to go out and get a job," Valdez said.
"Hopefully, we can make a difference that we can churn out individuals to have the tools to not come back again," she said.
The program is made possible through a partnership with El Centro College at no cost to taxpayers.
"It's really all just a new experience," said Heather Dougherty, one of three women in the program.
Of the more than 3,000 Dallas County Jail inmates, 300 are eligible for the program.
"They begin in our beginner computer classes, and they take advanced courses," said Cynthia Paschall, El Centro College instructor. "Once they finish all those courses and they're certified, they can come in to the actually print shop and begin their apprenticeship."
Six inmates currently are employed at the shop. All of them, including Dougherty, were at the top of their computer classes before working at the print shop.
"I've worked with the programs, but I actually haven't done the machines," Dougherty said. "That's given me a totally different experience."
North Texas nonprofit organizations will be able to use print shop's services as well.