From Offenders to Graduates: Female Inmates Emerge from Educational Program Prepared for Careers

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FOLSOM — Wednesday morning, more than 70 women at the Folsom Women’s Facility went from being offenders to graduates.

The largest number in the career certificate program’s history.

“I’ve never been to high school. I’ve never been to college,” Charmain Montoya said.

Montoya, 40, was presented with two pre-apprentice certificates — construction labor and carpentry.

“Forms to do concrete, I’ve learned how to be safe in a job site,” Montoya said. “I’ve learned how to dig holes, and build.”

Montoya will build a career and a life in the outside world when she is released next year.

“I’ve never succeeded in life before and this is going to help me succeed in life, for the future,” she told FOX40.

Terese Sheridan, 35, chose to study Computer Aided design with the goal of being an engineer after being released in 2020.

“Auto-CAD is more like floor plans for home,” Sheridan said. “And Inventor is more like parts for aircraft and cars.”

Proof of the program’s success is in the numbers. The recidivism rate in California is around 45 percent. But for these ladies, it’s less than 8 percent.

“This encourages them. This gives them that self esteem that confidence that they can make it,” Michele Kane, the program’s chief of external affairs, told FOX40. “They have the certification and it’s easier for them to find a job and hopefully find a career.”

Graduates say it’s just the push they need to turn their life around.

“I messed up. I want to come out of prison, be paroled, and have my family proud of me. My mother, my son, my boyfriend. I want them to be proud of me. And also for myself. I want to be able to have a good career when I get out,” Sheridan said.

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