By Bill Sessa
Public Information Officer
Thirteen inmates from the California Institution for Men (CIM) are the most recent graduates from the Inmate Ward Labor program, which provides basic safety training and a first step toward potential employment in the construction trades.
Begun at CIM in December 2011, the program provides inmates with training that qualifies them for apprenticeships when they return to the community.
The program includes classroom instruction and practical training on construction projects inside the prison, including remodeling of dental clinics and construction of mental health treatment.
“One of the first steps toward rehabilitation and reducing recidivism is to get a job,” noted CIM Warden Brenda Cash during the late summer graduation ceremony. “These inmates have taken the initiative to make a positive change in their lives and this program gives them the practical skills they need to take the next step toward employment.”
The classroom curriculum includes an orientation to apprenticeship, health and safety rules that govern construction sites, CPR and First Aid, training in reading blueprints, basic construction management and overviews of employment opportunities in construction and the history of the American workforce.
Before receiving a certificate, inmates are required to complete four hours of classroom training and 36 hours of work in the field each week and a total of 120 hours of classroom training and must have a high school diploma, GED or in the process of obtaining them.
The Inmate Ward Labor program was created in 2002 with the help of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and local trade unions.