Barber donates time to train Cook Co. Jail inmates

February 7, 2012 3:29:31 PM PST
Sixteen men at the Cook County Jail are learning how to be barbers, a course that could ease their way into the workforce after release.

The nine month course offered by Larry's Barber College teaches the men all about the trade. Larry Roberts Junior is the man behind the college. He's been a barber for 20 years and owns three shops and two other barber colleges. Now he's teaching men locked up behind bars.

"Why not let them have barber college while they're locked up in prison so that way when they get out they can go straight to work," Larry Roberts, Jr., Larry's Barber College, said.

Sheriff Tom Dart OK'd the program and even though it's only a few weeks old already they're seeing something new in the inmates' eyes.

"I see hope. I really do. I see individuals who a month ago had no hope that when they were getting out of here anything was going to happen differently than it had in the past... Who sit there and see hope," Sheriff Dart said.

"It means a lot because they're giving us an opportunity to show ... to show the public and our families and the world we can do something," Dominique Hodrick, Barber College student, said.

"A new beginning ... to make an honest living. So when I go out there I don't have to go back to gangs and selling drugs," Andy Rodriguez, Barber College student, said.

Classes are held five days a week from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Tuition at the other colleges is $9,500. But Roberts' is providing the jail course for free.

"I've dedicated myself to make sure I come out on a day-to-day basis and to make sure these are guys are able to re-enter society and be successful," Roberts said.

The men are awaiting trial at the jail, and upon their release will have a state license to be a professional barber.