Women Inmates Go Beyond Expectations in Logistics Training

Published jun. 06, 2016

MITCHELLVILLE—Twila Pore’s face lit up as she talked about the distribution and warehouse training she completed earlier this month while in prison, saying it was “life-changing.”

“I didn’t have the self-esteem or confidence to get a job ... a good job,” Pore, 47, formerly of Riverside, Calif., said in a makeshift classroom at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women. “I didn’t think I was smart enough. I dropped out (of high school) at 15. My parents were drug addicts. It’s all I knew.”

Pore, serving time for conspiracy to deliver methamphetamine and false impersonation, has about 34 months before she’s released from the women’s prison in Mitchellville.

She said she won’t “go back to that lifestyle” because now she — and 14 other inmates — have job skills after completing seven weeks of Transportation Distribution Logistics training at the prison.

They all received their TDL certification and graduated earlier this month.

Jennifer Payne, 25, of Algona, sitting across from Pore, started tearing up, talking about growing up in a violent home and admitting she was in prison for forgery and domestic abuse.

“I was in a bad relationship,” Payne said. “I hit him ... he didn’t fight back. I had some mental health issues, but I’m more stable now. I have ADHD, and I was scared and angry and had depression. Now, I’m on the right meds.”

Simulated business

But Payne became happier when she talked about handling the payroll in the training simulation, which involved operating a digital warehouse business and selling supplies to hotels, dorms and hospitals.

“I was able to give raises and bonuses — it was fun,” said Payne, who has only days until her release. “It was like a real payroll of $120,000, and it included (withholding) taxes and insurance.”

Susanna Miller, 38, of Davenport, who handled shipping, receiving and inventory, couldn’t wait to blurt out the mock business made “$1.2 million” — after paying off its loans.

“We hated to see it end,” Miller said. “We all felt overwhelmed at first, but it gave us confidence.”

Miller couldn’t stop talking about the business, explaining how they started adding customers. She and Pore said their instructor added one and then they all got the idea on how to attract more hotels as customers and boost profits.

She only became solemn as she talked about how she ended up in prison. Miller was convicted of child endangerment resulting in bodily injury. She physically, emotionally and verbally abused her then-boyfriend’s children.

“I was misusing prescription drugs for mental health issues,” Miller said, looking down as she tightly rolled up a tissue used to wipe away tears. “I had issues with my father and had explosive outbursts. I didn’t intentionally set out to harm them. I’ve been taking many classes to change my behavior and come out a better person. I’ve forgiven him (father) now and myself.”

Read the full article on The Gazette