The Michigan Department of Corrections offers prisoners the opportunity to build houses for low-income families. Founded in 1998 by Governor John Engler, the Michigan Department of Corrections partnered with Habitat for Humanity to help them with their home site construction.

The Prison Build Program allows student inmates to work on different exercises, carpentry skills, and service learning projects. The inmates gain valuable work experience that can help them reenter society after being released from prison. In this program, the students are given an opportunity to receive resume help, attend job fairs and sometimes apply for jobs while still in prison.

Prisoners construct anything from walls, to cabinets and countertops, to horticulture packages. The prison inmates design landscape plans and create the needed horticulture assets. No wood is wasted, the wood scraps are used to make furniture to accompany the home.

The Prison Build Program has built homes for low-income families and families whose homes were destroyed in natural disasters, along with cabins for state parks, bunk beds for foster children, and handmade toys to raise funds for the Children’s Trust Fund and new Habitat for Humanity programs.

In 2001, the Prison Build Program was named a semi-finalist in the Harvard University Innovations in American Government program and 2001 council of State Government Innovations program. Habitat for Humanity  also named the program one of the top five prison partnerships in the country.

The Prison Build Program is helping inmates learn skills that can help them reenter the workforce after prison. To learn more, check out their website.