Auto Paint and Body Repair

The auto body shop is a top-notch facility and serves as a training ground for inmates with an interest in vehicle body work. From sanding to applying paint, inmates receive hands-on experience repairing county-owned cars and trucks. Federal grant money was used to build one of the largest paint spray booths in Manatee County. The use of this facility and inmate labor has a cost savings of several thousand dollars each year.


In the carpentry program, inmates learn to apply the full range of carpentry skills in a well-equipped shop and through on-site experiences. They arc trained in building construction from layout to the finished product, with an emphasis on safety. Several buildings located in the vocational training area were designed and built with inmate labor.

Culinary Arts

Students are gaining an appetite for learning in the culinary arts program. They are trained how to properly prepare food, including short order cooking, baking, and the basics of restaurant management. A commercial-style kitchen, bakery, and on-site dining room provide employment conditions for the students.<

Custom Garment & Sewing

The LIFE sewing program is multi-faceted and one of the most productive. It began as the uniform production unit. Appropriately named, inmates were trained on donated used sewing machines to make clothes. Today, scores of jail uniforms and other garments are produced each week, saving the Sheriff's Office approximately $160,000 a year. Top of the line sewing machines arc now used to also create upholstery, sheets, pillowcases, and other garments.

Diesel Engine Repair

One of the first LIFE programs, the diesel engine repair class provides a foundation in the operation and repair of diesel engines and other equipment. From tractors to pick-up trucks, the Sheriff's Office saves thousands of dollars in repair bills, while at the same time inmates learn a trade. The inmates are provided with experience comparable to that found in the industry.


Horticulture is one of the largest LIFE programs, and it continues to grow. Students learn the basics of seeding, propagating, and cultivating plants. The operation includes more than 10,000 square feet of greenhouses and several acres of growing areas. In addition to providing plants for county beautification projects, a hydroponics operation located in one of the greenhouses helps supply the jail with organically grown vegetables.

Meat Processing

Beef and pork products are processed and packaged in a state-of-the-art facility that also serves as a training center. Inmates learn meat-cutting skills that enable them to find jobs in local grocery stores and butcher shops. Approximately 18,000 pounds of meat arc processed in this facility every month.

Video Production

Lights, Camera, Action! Students in this class help to create educational and promotional videos for the Corrections Bureau, while learning the fundamentals of shooting and editing video tape. Upon completion of the 12-week course, inmates have the necessary skills to get an entry-level production job in the television industry.


Welding classes help spark interest in a promising career path. In this workshop, inmates receive hands-on training and classroom instruction in a variety of welding techniques and metal fabrication. Welding students have helped create many of the metal structures located throughout the correctional complex.


Sentenced and un-sentenced inmates are encouraged to participate in basic academic classes that help prepare them for the G.E.D. Classes are taught in a jail computer lab during the day and evening to accommodate the work schedules of inmates enrolled in LIFE programs. Many of the inmates receive their high school diploma by the time they arc released from jail.

Other Areas

Not all inmates who are classified as low-risk qualify for LIFE programs. Many are put to work in other areas.

        • Farming
        • Grounds keeping
        • Kitchen
        • Road Gang
        • Maintenance
        • Housekeeping/Laundry Services

Future programs are planned, such as a fish farming operation where inmates will help raise tilapias in fresh water tanks. Tilapia is a fast growing fish that can weigh up to two pounds. This operation is expected to make a significant impact on the jail's food budget.