Inmates achieve full apprenticeships

By: Rachel Zirin, Senior Reporter
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For the first time in a California prison, 53 inmates at Folsom State Prison received state-certified journey-level apprenticeships Wednesday, Nov. 14, during a recognition ceremony.

This journey-level certification was in partnership with the United States Department of Labor, the California Department of Industrial Relations, and the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA), and qualifies offenders for meaningful employment once they’re released.

During Nov. 14 ceremony, the apprenticeships the inmates received their certification in included metal fabrication and health care facilities maintenance.

“The 53 inmates completed 2,000 hours to achieve this apprenticeship,” said Charles Pattillo, general manager of CALPIA. “They have a leg up when they get out. This certification basically says they know what they are doing.”

The certification the 53 inmates went through is also offered outside of the prison throughout the state, said Glen Forman, deputy chief for the California Department of Industrial Relations.

“The inmates who went through the training completed the standards and work processes, which entails classroom studies and on-the-job training,” Forman said. “This certification gives them a little boost from someone off the street that doesn’t have it. It’s a great start to their career and shows they can learn the basics, go forth and make a good livelihood for themselves.”

During the ceremony, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Undersecretary Kathleen Allison was the keynote speaker.

“I talked about how this apprenticeship is the building block to their future success,” she said. “They received skills they didn’t have before prison, and I encouraged them to embrace it and not let their past define them.”

Inmate John Douglas, a welding student, said he learned a trade while honing his interpersonal skills. Douglas has been serving his sentence since 2005.

“I’m lead MIG welder. It’s been pretty good. I learned a lot,” he said. “This will help me post-release. I have an opportunity to go into the union doing road work. I’m pretty easy to get along with.”

Pattillo said he encourages employers to hire one of these men when they’re released.

“They have done the work to make themselves better, and it makes them highly employable,” Pattillo said. “I encourage someone to hire them because they have a proven experience that they know what they are doing.”