Montana State Prison Inmates Find Opportunity Through Automotive Program

May 13, 2024
Since the program was first launched in partnership with Helena College last year, several inmates have gone on to find careers in the repair industry.

Six Montana State Prison inmates are having new doors opened for them after graduating from Helena College’s automotive technology program, reports KTVH.

In partnership with the Montana Department of Corrections, Helena College has provided inmates with a one-year automotive technology program, allowing them to earn a certificate from the college upon completion.

The inmates received classroom and hands-on instruction at the prison in addition to lectures they attended virtually. Bryce Adams, one of the program’s recent graduates, said it gave him confidence to reenter the workforce and to continue his pursuit of education.

This is the second year Helena College has held this program with the Department of Corrections, having nine inmates graduate from the program last year. Several of them now work in the auto repair industry. One of the most recent graduates, Brandon Seaman of Kalispell, Montana, may not be far behind them. He has plans to enroll in a second year of the automotive program and earn an associate’s degree.

“That'd be great–you know, something I never thought I'd do,” described Seaman. “To be able to do that and be able to give back, give back to communities and not be such a taker and be part of the solution instead of the problem out there would be great.”

At the inmates’ graduation ceremony, Scott Eychner–the rehabilitation and programs chief for the Department of Corrections–commended those in the repair industry that have been willing to not dismiss the students based on their current status.

“The more industry champions that we could find who would come in and actually help not only support these things, but give these guys a chance, hire them, help them find their way back in the community–the more that we can get, the better this program will continue to be,” said Eychner.

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