A program at Kirkconnell Correctional Centre aimed at providing work experience for inmates is starting to yield positive results.
The work-release program commenced last year and has been designed to offer vital employment pathways for minimum security inmates approaching the end of their sentence.
Paul, the first inmate to participate in the work-release program, has been successful at gaining employment with Still Engineering as a welder and fabricator.
His employment follows a year-long placement that allowed him to leave the prison and attend workplaces throughout the Bathurst community.
Paul, who has been an inmate at Kirkconnell since 2016, said the program has allowed him to make the most of his time while incarcerated.
"I was concerned about how I'd get back on my feet after four years in jail, but this opportunity has given me the confidence to rebuild my life," he said.
"Construction and design are two fields of work I enjoy, and the skills I have learnt will serve me well in my new career."
Paul initially commenced work at the centre's engineering shed, and has successfully completed Certificate II and III courses in Engineering.
He is expected to complete his sentence in 11 months time, and intends to put his skills to good use.
"Still Engineering has given me this incredible opportunity, and I don't want to let them down," Paul said.
Paul's work ethic has received plenty of praise from Still Engineering managing director Matthew Still.
"When he came to us, he was still building his skills, but he's managed to finish his placement and has been improving on the job every day," Mr Still said.
"He's going to have a job to go to once he completes his sentence, and we're happy to be partnering with Kirkconnell to help rehabilitate inmates."
The centre currently has a second work-release inmate on placement with another Bathurst engineering company, and intends to expand the program to include three more inmates.
Kirkconnell Correctional Centre manager of security Lennox Peter said the program is providing a new lease on life for inmates.
"Through the means of creating job opportunities and providing neccessary training, we want to ensure that our inmates can reintegrate themselves into society," Mr Peter said.
"If we don't give these guys a second chance, then we're letting both them and the community down."
Around 80 per cent of the centre's 260 inmates are currently employed in prison industries such as engineering and grounds maintenance.