Building houses offers hope

This is in regards to the article printed in the July 9, 2018 Clinton Herald, "Prison labor may be used to build homes."

My name is Daman C. Julian and I'm currently serving a seven-year sentence at Mt. Pleasant Correctional Facility in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. I'm in here for gatherings and aggravated misdemeanors. I'm presently involved in the Habitat For Humanity program here and I'm very proud to say that five of us leave every day to build a home for a family in need.

It doesn't just allow my skills, craft, as well as experience in building a home, most importantly, it allows me to give back to the community. They build a Habitat For Humanity house once a year. It takes about three months to build a home. The best feeling in the world is when the people from the community stop and thank us for dedicating our time, knowledge and skills for one common goal and that's to not be selfish but selfless with our heart and mind and to give back.

I thank the community for that, but also thank the law that allows us to participate. We're all not bad people in prison, we just made poor decisions which cost us our freedom. By allowing us in the prison system to build homes for low income or families in need, we will come out with a trade or at least a chance to hit society with a good sense of direction, a chance of hope, desire, change if you will. I feel as it will help lower the chance of recidivism if we pick up a trade, scholarship and make the most out of a bad or not-so-pleasant situation such as being incarcerated.

The inmates, or how I would like to be considered an incarcerated individual, will be the same people back in the community; your friend, your neighbor, your co-worker, etc. So why not reach out and help us so we're able to help give back and not re-offend? To me it sounds like a win-win situation. Keep in mind the people that will be allowed to take advantage of these programs will only be the ones who qualify to work in the community; no escapes, no sex offenders, no violent cases, minimum custody level.

As of now I make 56 cents an hour through IPI (Iowa Prison Industries). It may seem as we don't make nearly enough to put on our work boots and go to work but the true essence and message is inside here is to do something nice and give back. What we're doing is priceless. It's coming from our heart. In short I really hope and pray they get the bill to pass in all efforts to help us with better options in life upon release as well as take advantage to something that is much needed and rewarding — to help build houses for our community and those in need.

Thank you for reading this.

Daman C. Julian,

Mt. Pleasant Correctional Facility