Court-mandated classes for convicted drunk drivers will soon be offered within Iowa’s prison walls. Currently, the classes are only available to offenders at community colleges after they’re released from prison.

Kristina Carter-Larson, with the Iowa Department of Corrections, says corrections officers will begin training to offer the classes later this Fall. "Our staff will be trained, and we will be able to offer that in the institutions…just to assist the offenders in (eliminating) one more barrier to going out and securing and maintaining employment," Carter-Larson said.

Offenders serving time strictly for a third offense drunk driving conviction already have a separate program within the prison system. The new class would be for those with additional drug offenses. Carter-Larson says it should eliminate another barrier to getting on with life.

"It’s already hard enough on families financially and emotionally, that we feel that if we can provide that it will be one more step in the right direction of being a responsible citizen," Carter-Larson said.

Prison officials are debating who will pick up the cost of the class, which many offenders must take before they can get their drivers license back. The legislature approved the change after hearing the story of a convicted drunk driver and drug abuser whose employment was delayed upon her release from the women’s prison at Mitchellville.