Narrator: If you have stood inside an auto
repair shop, you recognize the sounds. What may be unfamiliar and unexpected is hearing
the sounds coming from a classroom inside a state prison. The Motorcycle Repair course at Pocahontas
State Correctional Center allows participants to engage in daily hands-on training inside
a shop equipped with the tools to tackle both common and challenging mechanical issues. ZACH PERKINS, INSTRUCTOR: “Today, we’re
working on a compression leak down on an engine. I got a couple of guys tearing down a side-by-side.
Got some steering issues with it. A couple of other guys over hear are tearing down a
motorcycle and completely redoing it. We’re going through the paint and rebuilding the
motor.” NARRATOR: The course also involves text book
material where the men learn the fundamentals and functionality of different types of engines
and other parts. Working together in teams means they also get to learn from one another. STEFAN SLATER: “I like seeing somebody’s
eyes open to some new learning especially when they get it…that lightbulb moment.
And they’re like ‘aww…I got it’. For me, there’s not greater joy.” NARRATOR: Through this course, the men can
earn certifications, which can translate to jobs on the outside. ROBERT VANOVER: “If we’re not working
on projects, we’re studying, doing bookwork getting ready for the EECT certification test.
They have four stroke, two stroke, transmissions and that’s some of the tests that are available
to us in here.” STEFAN SLATER: “I’ve got the classroom
certificate. I’ve got my two stroke and four stroke certification which lasts five
years. If a man wants a job in the field, in a motorcycle shop, he has to have certifications.
That’s a great thing. ZACH PERKINS: “It’s good around here. Side-by-side
business is real big. More and more motorcycles are being sold every day so it’s pretty
good around here.” NARRATOR: State employees provided several
of the machines in this shop. Some, however, were built right here at the prison. STEFAN SLATER: “We’ve did nine customs…ground up. Two of the frames were built next door in the welding shop. They were drawn up in the auto-cad program.
It gives the guys the experience.” NARRATOR: Experience that will be necessary
when they return to society looking to put their knowledge to use. ROBERT VANOVER: “This is what I intend on
doing…not only the motorcycle aspect of it because all my family rides motorcycles…but
also the small engine part, the lawnmowers. There’s a lot of people that I’m surrounded
by that has landscaping companies and stuff. I think there’s not just a market as a career
but general help for your family.” And if you ask Instructor Perkins, the motorcycle
repair course translates to wins all around for everyone involved. ZACH PERKINS “I like helping people. If
I can help one of these guys out of a hundred, I’ve done something. You don’t have to
have a ton of college education or anything. Just go out and do something. Get a little
bit of background behind you…a little bit of schooling…make something of yourself.” STEFAN SLATER: “Education is the catalyst
to corrective thinking and behavior. What we think, we’re going to do. If we’re
educated, we can find gainful employment in something that truly interests us and we’re
liable to keep it. And from there, continue to grow and educate ourselves in these fields.” ROBERT VANOVER: “It’s wonderful to know
that someone cares…that someone gives us chance to be somebody. The day I got locked
up, the day I got arrested and sentenced was not the end of the road for me. Now I know
that I have an opportunity. I have a future instead of thinking my life’s over now that
I’ve been to prison and knowing I can go out and pursue some kind of career and have
a chance…that’s just wonderful.”