Over the span of eight days in October, CDCR and the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) christened two new technology training centers for women offenders.

The first event – the grand opening of the new Autodesk-Authorized Training Center at the Folsom Women’s Facility (FWF) – took place on Oct. 12. The new Training Center is the only Autodesk-authorized Computer-Aided Design (CAD) program in the world housed at a state prison.

The new Training Center at the Folsom Women’s Facility is the only Autodesk-authorized Computer-Aided Design (CAD) program in the world housed at a state prison.

The training and skills received by offender-students in the class prepare graduates to obtain well-paying, marketable, and technology-based jobs when they return to their communities. The Autodesk program was initially launched in 2014 at the Folsom Women’s Facility in joint partnership between CDCR, CALPIA and Autodesk.

The new Training Center is not only the latest in modular building designs for classrooms, but a prime example of multiple offender programs allowing students to take what they learn inside the classroom and have a hand in creating a real product which will be utilized for years to come.

The building was designed by female CAD students from FWF, constructed by males in CALPIA’s Carpenters’ and Laborers Pre-Apprenticeship programs at Folsom State Prison, and subsequently installed by female offenders from FWF’s Laborers and Carpenters Pre-Apprenticeship programs.

The buildings themselves have an estimated 30-year lifespan with minor maintenance. They cost less than conventional detention-grade modular buildings and come with five-year construction warranties, the longest in the industry. Having offenders from the Pre-Apprenticeship program involved in all phases of the building’s conception, design, and construction is an added bonus as the skills utilized will lead to post-release employment and ultimately provide a demonstrated reduction in offender recidivism.

“If we can provide high-tech skills that employers seek, offenders will have greater success getting a job and staying out of prison,” said Kathleen Allison, director of the Division of Adult Institutions at CDCR, who keynoted the CAD event. “Secured technology-based programs provide offenders opportunities to change their lives around and find meaningful employment when they go back to their communities.”

The new Autodesk Training Center contains two classrooms with 28 students in each room for a total of 56.  Offenders learn and receive certifications in AutoCAD, Revit, and Inventor and, when released, are qualified to obtain jobs in architectural, mechanical, or engineering fields.  In fact, CALPIA’s Autodesk instructors provide assistance to graduates with job placement.  Graduates who have been released report back to CALPIA about their success in obtaining jobs in product design, engineering, and architectural design in locations ranging from Stockton to New York.

The second event – the grand opening of the new Code.7370 computer coding program at the California Institution for Women (CIW) – took place on Oct. 19.  CDCR, CALPIA, and The Last Mile unveiled the new Code.7370, computer coding training room where female offenders will learn coding languages HTML, JavaScript, CSS and Python. In addition to these front-end skills, the curriculum will expand to include web and logo design, data visualization and UX/UI.

Since Internet access is not allowed in prison, programs are taught without connectivity. To overcome this challenge, The Last Mile created a proprietary programming platform that simulates a live coding experience.

The facility was remodeled and brought up to today’s building codes using female offenders from CALPIA’s Pre Apprenticeship program taught by Laborer’s and Carpenters of Southern California.

CIW’s Code.7370 Program is CALPIA‘s second computer coding program. CALPIA launched the first Code.7370 program at San Quentin State Prison in 2014 for male offenders. The program has become one of the most effective correctional rehabilitative programs in California, with a 0% recidivism rate. It simulates a live coding environment for the students without providing actual access to the internet.

“We are pleased to incorporate high-tech rehabilitation without jeopardizing safety,” said keynote speaker Ralph Diaz, CDCR undersecretary of operations.  “Offenders build their confidence as they learn new skills they never dreamed possible for themselves. They start thinking long-term about their future and how they can make a positive difference not only for themselves, but their families.”

The average offender costs California taxpayers $72,000 a year in state prison. With a recidivism rate of less than 7.13 percent, CALPIA’s Career Technical Education (CTE) programs, which include AutoCAD and Code.7370, and pre-apprenticeship trade skills training, are some of CDCR’s most successful vocational training programs. Every graduate who finishes the program is one less cost to taxpayers and one more successful contributing member of society who comes home.

In 2018, CALPIA, in partnership with CDCR, will open three additional Technology Training Centers featuring Autodesk and computer coding facilitated by The Last Mile. Additional centers will be located at the Central California Women’s Facility, Pelican Bay State Prison, and at the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility.

In addition, in early June 2018, CALPIA’s Code.7370 Program at San Quentin State Prison will expand to include three additional classrooms and space to expand the Last Mile Works, a federally authorized Joint Venture program which employs Code.7370 graduates to work on real, client-based projects that require coding and design solutions.

The Joint Venture pays these hired Code.7370 graduates comparable market wages. Advanced classes in coding and CAD will also be offered at the expanded facility.

The June 2018 grand opening is anticipated to occur in conjunction with the Last Mile’s annual Demo Day, when Code.7370 students have the opportunity to pitch their technology and entrepreneurial projects to an audience consisting of technology executives, venture capitalists, government officials and community members.