CHICAGO (CBS) — It has been nearly two years since the Cook County Sheriff’s Department allowed the owner of some local barber colleges to start a barber college in the jail.
Today, there are some success stories to report, and detainees are lined up for the opportunity to learn the skills they need to be successful when they get out.
Inside Division 6 at the Cook County Jail, there’s a bustling barber shop, run by Larry Roberts Jr. and the Sheriff’s department.
“This is a full service barber shop,” Roberts says, “They get shampoos, they get locks, we do color when we can, this gentleman over needs some color,” he jokes, pointing to a graying detainee getting a cut from from a detainee in the program.
Roberts Jr., is standing among his latest crop of students, teaching them everything they need to know to be successful, he says.
They learn to cut hair with the best of them, he says, but more important, he says, is the rest of their training, including starting a business, customer service, accounting, everything, he says, from greeting clients to what kind of music is playing in the shop.
On the outside Larry Roberts Jr. runs Larry’s Barber Colleges, where students pay 10-thousand dollars to become licensed barbers.
In the jail, it’s free.
“It doesn’t matter for you to get here,” Roberts says, “what happens now is how you deal with where you are right now and lets move forward and be successful.”
Roberts believes the inmates deserve a second chance.
Detainee Jermaine Singleton says, “It’s a wonderful program.”
When he first came to the jail, he says, “I never touched a pair of clippers.”
Now, he says, he sees a brighter future. He graduated from the program is is now working toward his instructor’s license.
“I want to do something with my life and this is the first step to doing that,” he said.