Program Aims to Train Washington Inmates to Drive Lift Trucks

YAKIMA, Wash.—Some of the newest lift truck drivers in Washington will be coming from an unlikely source: a local prison.

Yakima County jail inmates will have the option to take part in a program for lift truck training aimed at providing prisoners with a skill that can translate into work once they return to the community.

According to the county’s Department of Corrections, such a class has never been tried before in the state. It is being funded with over $11,000 from the state’s jail industries board.

Ken Pollard, general manager of the Yakima branch of Papé Material Handling, donated the lift truck, valued at nearly $13,950, along with future maintenance, according to a news release.

The lift truck program was chosen because participants would be able to quickly get work in a decent-paying profession, Sgt. Gina Danielson, a department spokeswoman, told the Yakima Herald-Republic.

Eligible inmates will attend classes for eight hours over the course of two days, split between classroom training and hands-on training. Those that pass the class would receive certification that would enable them to earn a job with an hourly wage typically ranging from $10-$12 per hour. Such training normally costs close to $200.

Screening for the class will be based on the inmates’ classification, behavior and pre-test abilities, according to the release.

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