Pulaski jail takes ownership of warehouse that serves as inmate re-entry training center

SOMERSET, KY– SPEDA purchased and leased property to the jail to expand re-entry program

If hard work is the key to success, there is no better symbol than the physical key that changed hands Tuesday evening.

That key is to a warehouse the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) purchased from Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital in 2021 and leased to the Pulaski County Detention Center (PCDC) to own. The dream was to use it as a technical training center for the jail’s inmate re-entry program, an initiative PCDC and SPEDA created with Somerset Community College, Goodwill Industries and other workforce partners to give second chances, reduce recidivism rates and help build the local workforce.

The building needed significant remodeling before it could be used as a training center and the projected cost to do so was high — to the tune of $335,000. But PCDC’s inmates were up to the challenge. Using an architect’s design, they remodeled the building to meet current code standards at a fraction of the cost. The jail saved $275,000 by making this a training project in and of itself.

And now, it is the dream. The jail has fulfilled its lease-to-own obligation to SPEDA, and this 6,000-square-foot space has been transformed into a building where inmates will learn skills like welding that they will use as employees of local manufacturing facilities upon release. The community celebrated the center’s grand opening Tuesday with a Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber After Hours.

“This facility is instrumental in providing people incarcerated at the Pulaski County Detention Center with life skills that give them a head start in seeking employment, having opportunities that they may not have had previously,” Pulaski County Jailer Anthony McCollum said. “And it helps the community by providing employers with skilled labor. This program continues to grow and change lives, and we are grateful to our partners and the community for supporting it.”

PCDC launched its inmate re-entry program in November 2019. The initiative — Comprehensive Rehabilitation of Inmates Transforming Individuals, Community and Livelihoods, or CRITICAL — offers soft skills and technical training to qualifying inmates at the jail, allowing them to complete certifications, gain employment and earn money before being released. CRITICAL also helps inmates secure important documents they often find themselves without when released, like birth certificates, identification and Social Security cards.

To date, CRITICAL has graduated 34 inmates, and the jail is receiving statewide recognition for being a leader in re-entry efforts.

SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler said the re-entry program has exceeded all expectations as a tool to improve quality of life in Somerset-Pulaski County.

“The re-entry program is without a doubt one of the most progressive workforce development initiatives in the state of Kentucky,” Girdler said. 

“The inmates who have graduated from this program have a new lease on life, and it is so uplifting to hear their stories. We are proud to be able to help this initiative grow through the purchase and donation of this warehouse, to be able to save taxpayers money by reducing recidivism rates and providing lower-cost facilities, and to stand here today knowing that this is only the beginning for this program. Congratulations to the Pulaski County Detention Center and the re-entry program partners for this accomplishment, and to the community for getting behind it. This is truly a one-of-a-kind program.”

Pulaski County Judge Executive Marshall Todd said the training center represents the rehabilitation of individuals and an entire community. 

“Having a center like this open here in Pulaski County is not only a good thing for inmates reentering the workforce, it’s also a good thing for a community looking to rebuild that workforce,” Todd said. “If we give people the tools, the training, and the hope to make better lives for themselves and their families, they are much less likely to go back to a life of crime. Reduced recidivism means increased quality of life for all of Pulaski County.”

Somerset Mayor Alan Keck said he is proud of this program and the innovative way it strengthens the local workforce while giving second chances.

“You can’t just look at workforce development through a singular lens,” Keck said. “To be successful you have to look at how you can help people of all walks of life be a part of the workforce. Jailer McCollum, SPEDA, and the many community partners who have invested in this program have created something special here — something that isn’t being done anywhere else in the state. I applaud them for the way they are helping build a strong workforce and am excited to see how this program continues to thrive with the addition of this training center.”

The re-entry program is inspirational and one the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce is proud to support, Executive Director Bobby Clue said.

“We were thrilled to be able to host an after-hours event here so that our members and the public can see for themselves the great work happening in this space,” Clue said. “These men and women are putting in the work to turn their lives around and contribute to our local economy. This is an exceptional program and means so much to our workforce and quality of life. It’s another example of how Somerset and Pulaski County are working together to lead the way in caring for residents and the business community.”

Kentucky Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Frank Jemley attended Tuesday’s grand opening. He applauded the community’s efforts to proactively embrace a “fair chance system that helps grow the region’s workforce today and its economy of the future.”

“They clearly recognize the many values of such efforts, economic and otherwise,” Jemley said. “And we applaud their altruism, for laying down a very clear path to a better life for their neighbors who have stumbled and need a hand up. They offer a shining example of a community that embodies the Golden Rule.”

About the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers

Our mission at the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers is to make a better Kentucky by promoting and growing manufacturing and the economic opportunities it creates in the Commonwealth. Learn more at


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