- Associated Press - Thursday, December 18, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Former Rhode Island inmates who were the first to take part in a new program aimed at reducing recidivism have graduated from the training.

A ceremony was held Thursday at the Department of Labor for the 9 Yards pilot program.

OpenDoors, a nonprofit group that works with formerly incarcerated people, started the program in 2013 to offer educational and vocational training, among other services.

Program coordinator Nick Horton says it’s more comprehensive and individualized than existing services. It begins in prison and continues afterward.

Of the initial 15 men, nine were ready to graduate Thursday. Participant Derek LeBlanc says he learned to be disciplined and responsible.

The Governor’s Workforce Board funded 9 Yards.

Horton says he’ll begin working with 15 more inmates soon. LeBlanc is considering being a mentor.

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