The California Prison Industry Authority graduated 65 women in its most recent class of vocational trainees at the Women’s Facility at Folsom State Prison.
Certificates were handed out in carpentry and construction labor, computer-aided design, health care facilities maintenance, warehouse and logistics, and customer representative training.
Graduates got cheers from parents, instructors and fellow inmates as they received their certificates. New to the program is a $50,000 course in computer-aided design, a rigorous 8-hour-a-day ordeal. It costs the PIA much less thanks to donations from supporters of the program.
“It gives us such amazing opportunities when we go home because this field is constantly growing and it’s in high demand,” said graduate Caitlin Churchill.
Theresa Cabrera spent a year getting certificates that guarantee her a year’s worth of dues in a laborer’s union. She said completing the courses gives her confidence that she can stay out of prison.
“It just opens your eyes to what I can do, what I’m able to do, what I know I can go out there and do,” Cabrera said.
Her father Danny Cabrera said it is an ordeal for the whole family to have a child in prison.
“This is a milestone,this is the beginning for her and everyone else in the family,” Danny Cabrera said.
PIA General Manager Charles Patillo said the program saves the state huge amounts of money because fewer than 10 percent of graduates return to prison. Sixty percent to 70 percent of inmates who are not in the training programs are likely to re-offend and return.
“They are going to taxpayers now instead of tax consumers,” Patillo said.
Theresa Cabrera says it’s an opportunity to chart a new course when she is released.
“I’m not coming back here ever,” she said.