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Voices (And Photos) From Life-Skills Classes For Tutwiler Inmates

Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women inmates get down to the hard business of self-examination in a life-skills class, part of a pilot program offered by J.F. Ingram State Technical College. Ingram State's counseling coordinator Rick Vest and reentry program case manager Amanda Pittman (both at upper right) lead the class. Photos by Dan Carsen.

90.3 WBHM Wetumpka, Ala. -- J.F. Ingram Technical College is a unique part of Alabama's two-year college system because all of its students are incarcerated. Last month, as part of our prison-reporting partnership with Al.com, WBHM's Dan Carsen drove down to Ingram's campus at Julia Tutwiler Prison For Women. He was planning to do a short story on Ingram's program there, but he came out with so much compelling material, including this one-on-one interview, that he wanted to make a mini-documentary. Here it is:

A note on the photographs: As a precondition of Dan's visit, he agreed not to use inmates' last names in the radio piece or publish images that clearly show their faces. We've blurred some of the photos.

Rick Vest teaches a thoughtful -- rather than reflexive -- way to respond to hostility.

A cosmetology course at what the inmates call "the trade school," J.F. Ingram's Tutwiler campus, which from the outside is indistinguishable from the rest of the prison, but inside feels more hopeful. Many of these women had been doing hair and nails before their incarceration but hadn't been licensed.

A Tutwiler inmate practices her trade.

A different view of J.F. Ingram's Tutwiler welding shop.

A motivational mural in J.F. Ingram's Tutwiler auto shop.

Inmates had just taken a break from doing an alignment job on this Corvette.

Tools of a different trade (upholstery).

What the inmates have to work with.

You heard a lot about "Step 5" in the documentary. Here you can see the other four.

You heard this essay read aloud by the aspiring professional welder, formerly an aspiring CEO, in the documentary.

A reminder Mandy Pittman keeps in her office in J.F. Ingram's Tutwiler campus.

~ Dan Carsen, June 24, 2014

Dan's education reporting can be found here.