California’s Prison Industry Authority (PIA) has kicked off a program that trains women prisoners in computer aided design (CAD). The six-month program has students working to design and build mechanical items for its construction program.
The PIA is trying to get more training for women inmates. For years, it has trained male inmates in various trades, even to the point of guaranteeing them union membership after they leave prison.
CAD graduates have a chance to get well-paying jobs from engineering companies. Several have committed to hiring trainees.
“There are employers willing to hire them in computer assisted drafting and design out in the community. Several engineering companies have contacted us willing to hire folks as soon as they graduate,” said Charles Patillo, General Manager of the Prison Industry Authority.
Many of the CAD students have children and the prospect of getting well-paying jobs is encouraging.
Lavada Davis is a mother of five who is serving time for possession of stolen property. She’s ecstatic about being chosen for the challenging program.
“I can’t stop smiling,” said Davis.
Davis said often she has used the fact that she’s a single mother as a crutch that kept her from chaining her life. Now she’s encouraged with the progress she’s made with the program.
“I want to show my kids that just because I have kids and didn’t have the skills I can go on and acquire them and become something,” said Davis.
Another reason the program makes sense is that California has been ordered to reduce its inmate population. The return rate for inmates enrolled in PIA programs is just 10-15%, as opposed to as high as 70% for inmates in the general population.
It cost taxpayers about $60,000 per year to keep an inmate locked up.