By Facilities Planning, Construction and Management staff

The Inmate/Ward Labor Program (IWL), in partnership with the local unions and CDCR stakeholders, has been providing inmates training through the pre-apprenticeship program and with on-the-job experience on various construction projects. This joint effort continues to provide former CDCR inmates the job skills that lead to potential career opportunities upon release. One such success story is former inmate Johnny Bosquez, who is now earning over $30 per hour.

The Inmate/Ward Labor crew works on the CSP-Corcoran EOP project.

Bosquez worked on various IWL construction projects at California State Prison, Corcoran. Some of the successful and notable projects include the Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP) Clinic and small management yards.

Bosquez was provided training in various trades but found his calling with plumbing.

As part of the plumbing crew, he was instrumental in the installation of the main/fire water supply, sewer, and fire suppression systems.

Correctional Officer Jack Jung spoke highly of Bosquez and described him as being very religious and a model inmate. Other CDCR staff described Bosquez as a hard worker who took initiative on the job and was extremely motivated in finding more work when the task was completed.

Journeyman Plumber Jason Tomkins, with Local 246 Fresno, was hired by IWL for the COR EOP project. He provided the oversight, training and leadership to Bosquez as well as the team of inmates under his supervision.

Bosquez, prior to his parole in 2013, confided in Tomkins of his concerns with the possibility of returning to prison due to the lack of resources for sustainable job opportunities. Tomkins connected Bosquez with Local 246.

Upon Bosquez’s release, Tomkins arranged to take him to the union hall and introduced him to Business Agent (BA) Tom Avila.

“If we don’t hire this guy (Bosquez), he will end up as a nonunion competitor,” Tomkins told Avila.

His hard work paid off. Bosquez is currently a fourth year apprentice (eighth period) with the Plumbers Local 246 in Fresno.

An apprentice with the Plumbers Union requires 1,080 hours of related instruction (216 hour per year for five years) and 8,500 hours of on-the-job training. Bosquez has a year left to complete the full apprenticeship and is currently employed with Strategic Mechanical earning just over $31 per hour. The full package, including benefits for his level, is $60.05 per hour.

Bosquez said that his experience with IWL not only showed him options but directly led him to this career and current employment opportunity. His experience with IWL gave him something to look forward to while in prison but also a great opportunity for “re-starting” his life upon release.

The partnership between CDCR’s Inmate/Ward Labor Program and local trade unions helps bridge the gap for ex-offenders to successfully transition back into society. IWL provides them with the education and “real world” experience needed to obtain gainful employment and careers in the construction industry.

Bosquez currently resides in Fresno with his wife and children and lives everyday as an example of what education, training, and experience can offer.

IWL continues to identify new locations to increase inmate participation through the pre-apprenticeship program.