Former prison inmates have teamed up to get a fresh start in life by starting a forestry company in Los Lunas, New Mexico.
Following their release from Los Lunas prison in 2018, low-level offenders Lawrence Jaramillo and Joshua Melendrez decided to apply the skills they learned at the Inmate Work Camp (IWC) to the outside world, according to Fox 6.
“The training there is immaculate,” Jaramillo stated, adding, “I couldn’t have asked for any better training. They push you, they don’t let you slack off and they push you to be better for yourselves and our teammates.”
Jaramillo chose the program because it gave him the chance to be outside prison grounds and learn about fighting wildfires and other outdoor skills.
“I was able to see more of New Mexico in prison than I have my whole life living here,” he commented.
When the men realized there was a demand for forestry work in the state, they recruited several other former inmates to join their business endeavor and established All Around Forestry LLC.
“We know our job. We did it for years. Two years with IWC,” Melendrez explained, adding, “We take pride in what we do.”
The IWC was established nearly 21 years ago as a way to help former inmates acquire the tools they need to transition back into society, according to ABC News.
In January, the company landed a contract with Ponderosa Christian Camp in Sandoval County and has been working there since that time.
“They’ve gotten an amazing amount done,” said the camp’s board director, Craig Mathews.
“We hope this is just a springboard for them, and that they’re very successful in the projects they get awarded in the future,” he stated.
Melendrez said being part of the business has given him an opportunity to do things a better way.
“We did wrong in the past but that’s not us anymore, we’ve changed our lives completely,” he stated.
Now, Jaramillo hopes his family members who have been in and out of prison will follow his lead by finding some type of work that gives them a mission and hope for years to come.
“We all have a chance,” he concluded.