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Tulsa Inmate Credits In2Work Program For Changing His Life

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Some inmates at the Tulsa County Jail have a brighter future, thanks to a jobs skills program. Some inmates at the Tulsa County Jail have a brighter future, thanks to a jobs skills program.
The food, cooked by four convicts, looked like a gourmet lunch; salad to start and beef tenderloin to finish several courses. The food, cooked by four convicts, looked like a gourmet lunch; salad to start and beef tenderloin to finish several courses.
Nicholas Woodring Now, he said, the chef he’s become is no longer the man that led a wild life landing him in the Tulsa County Jail. Nicholas Woodring Now, he said, the chef he’s become is no longer the man that led a wild life landing him in the Tulsa County Jail.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

Some inmates at the Tulsa County Jail have a brighter future, thanks to a jobs skills program. It's designed to help them get jobs in the food service industry after being in prison.

It’s no secret that after being in trouble with the law it can be difficult to find a job. The hope is the new life skills taught by the In2Work program will keep the men out of trouble and in the kitchen.

The food, cooked by four convicts, looked like a gourmet lunch; salad to start and beef tenderloin to finish several courses.

Nicholas Woodring, 31, said he fell down the wrong path. It was a path that included methamphetamine use and a sex charge involving a minor in California. Now, he said, the chef he’s become is no longer the man that led a wild life landing him in the Tulsa County Jail.

Woodring was one of the 12 accepted into the In2Work program; a program that has several hundred inmates apply. He credits the program for changing his life.

"I found that when you are in a cooking class it is a way of meditation and it’s a way for you to get you to see things in your life that need to change," he said.

They go through ten weeks of rigorous instruction; about 30 hours a week.

“Crammed full of learning for everyone involved. Over the course of the class we have touched on cooking basics, retail basics and baking," said Emily Jacobi with In2Work.

To graduate the men had to cook and serve a full meal for their families. Woodring's grandma, Mahota Burgess-Smith, said he's come full circle; from trouble to a real trade.

"Well it makes me feel good, however when he was a little boy he always followed me around the kitchen," she said.

As a man, he is returning to the kitchen and life with a new resolve. He said overcoming the death of a friend and restoring the broken relationship with his family is priority.

"Everything just fell apart and that just got me more addicted, but now I found a way to fix it and this is my addiction now, cooking," Woodring said.

Many of the graduates are still serving time and have charges they face. Woodring said if he gets out his goal is to be a head chef.

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