Rayne’s jail is offering prisoners tools that will help when they get out. Fourteen low-risk inmates are learning life skills through a work program.
“It’s changed my life tremendously,” said Ricky Cox, who’s been an inmate for five years.
He still has a few more years to serve, but in the meantime, he’s learning how to become a mechanic.
“Chief saw I had a knack for this here and asked me if I wanted to learn and I just took off with it,” said Cox.
Before, he had no experience fixing cars. Now, he repairs police units for not just Rayne, but for other agencies as well.
“Bumper to bumper really. The whole-nine, paint and body, electrical, all the decals you see here,” he said.
This work program gives inmates like Cox, real-world experience in fields like construction and auto work.
“The positive side is, it not only teaches them but also saves tax dollars in the community,” said Police Chief Caroll Stelly, who started the program 12 years ago. “They come in, some of these guys have no type of skill set, and the more they learn and the more they’re encouraged, their self esteem grows.”
For Cox, the program has done more than give him good work ethic and self esteem.
“This one’s complete,” he said proudly, pointing to the Maurice police vehicle he recently finished fixing.
It’s also given him another perspective on life.
“It really has taught me not just to co-exist with these officers, side by side, but also seeing that they’re not all bad guys, just as we’re not all bad guys. And we really are close-knit,” he said.
Chief Stelly said there’s always work to be done and expects more neighboring cities who don’t have this program to send their police units here to get fixed up as well.