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HCI, CCCC open inmate barber school

HCI, CCCC open inmate barber school

click to enlarge ⊗

Harnett Correctional Institution, in Lillington, dedicated its new Central Carolina Community College ... (more)

HCI, CCCC open inmate barber school

click to enlarge ⊗

Harnett Correctional Institution, in Lillington, dedicated its new Central Carolina Community College ... (more)

HCI, CCCC open inmate barber school

click to enlarge ⊗

Harnett Correctional Institution, in Lillington, dedicated its new Central Carolina Community College ... (more)

HCI, CCCC open inmate barber school

click to enlarge ⊗

Harnett Correctional Institution, in Lillington, dedicated its new Central Carolina Community College ... (more)

HCI, CCCC open inmate barber school

click to enlarge ⊗

Harnett Correctional Institution in Lillington dedicated its new Central Carolina Community College ... (more)

10.20.2008Curriculum Programs

LILLINGTON - Frank Brunson, neatly attired in his black barber's jacket, gently massaged moisturizer into Ahmad Simmons' face as Simmons reclined in a barber chair.

"You have to know the muscles, you have to work with the muscles as you massage," Brunson explained with a knowledgeable air. He continued working with the yellow lemon cream, readying Simmons' skin for more facial care.

Brunson was working at one of 10 barber chairs in an immaculate, newly opened 2,700-square-footbarber school. It's no ordinary school. When he and the 19 other men in his barbering class complete a day of training, they don't go home - they report back to their dormitories.

This barber school is located within the razor-wire fencing and steel gates of Harnett Correctional Institution in Lillington, a facility of the North Carolina Department of Corrections Division of Prisons. The school is in a former HCI maintenance building, renovated to create the modern school and shop.

While Brunson and his fellow student inmates practiced their skills inside, outside in the fresh air and bright sunshine of the Oct. 14 autumn day, dignitaries gathered for the dedication of the School of Barbering, the first in the Department of Corrections Division of Prisons system. The program is run and taught by Central Carolina Community College.

"This is a history-making event," said Bill Tyson, the college's provost for Harnett County. "At HCI, the college has developed a number of programs and skills that give our students the chance to get jobs when they get out. I expect barbering to follow the lead of the other programs here. We've broadened the possibilities for our students at HCI. We've given them another way to work while they're here and another way to make it when they're released."

When the student inmates successfully complete their rigorous, eight-hour-a-day program, the N.C. Board of Barber Examiners will award provisional licenses to them. They will then be assigned by the Division of Prisons to provide barbering services to inmates. When they have served their time and are released back into society, they can appear before the board to determine their eligibility to become licensed barbers. This is the students' dream, their hope, their goal.

"This program is instrumental for guys trying to reorient themselves into society," said student inmate Myron White. He's serving time for armed robbery, which will keep him at HCI until 2011. He's looking forward to re-entering society as a giver, not a taker. With a tinge of regret in his voice, he added, "If I had had opportunities like this on the outside, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have ended up here."

Barbering is a prestigious offering at HCI. Each of the students is required to have a GED or high school diploma before being accepted into the college-level program. Some ea ed them through Central Carolina Community College while at HCI. Each also has to meet Department of Corrections standards for enrollment.

The program is the same as the college's barbering program at its West Harnett Center, except that the students behind the fences at HCI don't get to shave with razorblades until well into their training. In the meantime, they practice their shaving technique with razors minus the blades.

The college began its first classes at HCI in 1966. Daniel Thomas, the college's director of correctional education at HCI, oversees the GED and adult high school programs, as well as vocational training: masonry, carpentry, welding, electronic servicing, automotive services, electrical, food service, small engine and equipment repair, business administration, and now, barbering.

About a dozen years ago, Tyson wanted to start a barbering program at HCI, but it didn't happen. Then, three years ago, everything came together, he said. The N.C. Board of Barber Examiners felt the time was right; the Department of Corrections, Division of Prisons, and HCI administration strongly supported the idea; CCCC trustees approved it; and the college's administrators, staff, and faculty were ready to supply the program. Tyson credited Arthur Clark, DOC education specialist, as the "engineer that drove the train," coordinating all the planning to bring the project to completion.

Bonnie Boyette, chief of program services for the Division of Prisons, was one of the dedication program speakers. She said that many of those that come into the prison system lack education, a work ethic, and the skills to make a living.

"Without education, they cannot succeed when they get out," she said. "This program means so much. Through successful partnerships, we're coming together to make things different for our inmates."

During the dedication, Pat Chavis, region director for the Division of Prisons, presented service plaques to those individuals and agencies that were instrumental in establishing the HCI School of Barbering. Dr. T. Eston Marchant III, president of Central Carolina C.C., received a plaque honoring the college for its support of and dedication to HCI's educational programs. Jerry McQueen, DOC program director, was honored for outstanding service; Mike Hall, director of maintenance, for outstanding achievement; and Arthur Clark, for outstanding leadership.

Representatives from the college, N.C. Board of Barbering Examiners, DOC, Division of Prisons, and HCI spoke at the dedication. Following the comments, a red, white and blue 'Central Carolina Community College Barber School/Barber Shop' banner for the facility was unveiled. Then, Joseph Hall, HCI administrator, wielded a large pair of scissors to cut a red ribbon, officially dedicating the school.

Inside, the student inmates saw none of the ceremony, but they didn't have to, to know how important the program is to them.

"I owe a new life to the Department of Corrections and Central Carolina Community College," said Brunson, who gets out in 2012. "I'm almost 50. When I was young, I decided to be a gangster when I should have been a professional boxer. This program gives us a chance to get back into society and get back what we lost - trust. It's a chance to say to society, we're sorry - let us talk to society's children so they don't make the mistakes we did. I can never repay what I owe the DOC and CCCC, but to go out and do the right thing."