Vocational training programs in state prisons are being expanded by the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA), reports The Folsom Telegraph.
CALPIA reported the $12 million expansion will include all 34 California prisons.
Classes that will be extended include the successful Code.7370 computer coding program at San Quentin State Prison. It will expand to Pelican Bay State Prison and the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility. The maintenance and pre-apprentice programs will expand to Folsom State Prison (FSP), reports The Telegraph.
“Expanding pre-apprentice programs is beneficial for CALPIA participants so they can be job-ready when heading back to their communities,” said Curtis Kelly, PIA board member and Northern California Carpenters Regional Council district manager.
“By working with journeyman professionals, participants learn the highly marketable skills of a trade, set the groundwork for future employment through the trade unions, and work toward a long-lasting, meaningful career.”
In the 2017-2018 fiscal year, offender positions will increase by more than 135 percent, from 488 to 1,148, according to the report.
The vocational programs “have the lowest recidivism rates in the state. When you increase rehabilitative programming opportunities for offenders, you increase the chances for them to be successful and decrease the chances of them returning to prison,” said Charles L. Pattillo, PIA general manager.
The CALPIA Career Technical Education program started in 2006 and currently has a recidivism rate of 7.13 percent. It started as a pre-apprenticeship program with journeyman instructors that were contracted by local trade unions representing carpentry, construction labor and iron working.
Once offenders complete their course, they can work for trade unions upon release. To help the offender get started, initial union dues are paid, and necessary tools are provided.
“Specifically in Folsom State Prison, as well as the Folsom Women’s Facility, we have expanded the pre-apprenticeship programs such as roofing, carpentry, iron worker and these programs have been growing fast,” Pattillo said. “These programs benefit the offenders by giving them the opportunity to learn skills and keep them out of prison.”
One of the programs to be offered is general facilities maintenance and repair, a six-month program. Graduates will be able to take state employment examinations and qualify to work as custodians or maintenance technicians with the Department of General Services upon their release from prison. This program will be instituted statewide.
Another example is the iron worker program, a six-month course in welding, metal work, use of hand tools, and other diverse skills. Graduates of the program earn accredited certifications required by unions. This program is offered at FSP.
In addition to these programs, PIA will work with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to create three new Technical Industry Education programs. A metal/welding program will be offered at California State Prison, Solano (SOL) and Avenal State Prison. An optical program will be offered at SOL.
CALPIA is an independent state agency that operates more than 100 manufacturing, service, and consumable enterprises in all 34 CDCR prisons. CALPIA provides curriculum for offenders that offer 124 nationally recognized accredited certifications.
More information about CalPIA can be found at www.calpia.ca.gov.