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Ten women become first female graduates of MDOC welding program

Sep. 1, 2023

Source: Howard Ballou, WLBT News

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - You know schools are just re-opening, but you probably didn’t know there is already a graduation to report. Ten female inmates at the Mississippi Correctional Institute for Women in Pearl have become the first graduating class in welding. It’s a milestone for MDOC.

In 2022, female inmates at CMCF were among the first to enroll in a master welding course, starting with simulators in MDOC’s new welding trailer. That trailer moves to prisons around the state, and after inmates pass the tough tests, they are certified by the National Center for Construction Education and Research. It’s the national standard for construction work, and the ten women met that standard. When they’re released, it will be easier for them to find work.

MDOC Commissioner Burl Cain said, “So, it’s a progressive thing. We have to have these first ones with their degrees and certified and qualified so they can become teachers. So we’re gonna have more degrees. A lot of people here need to learn how to weld, get a good job.”

Erica Smith, MCIW Program Director, said, “This is one of the major issues that women have when they’re released from prison and they can’t find work. So we want to be able to give them something that would help them gain employment when they leave here and to help build a promising future.”

The next step is a job fair to be hosted at the prison. Mississippi construction industries, like Ingalls Shipyards and others who need welders, have signed up for the job fair.

You may not know it, but inmates can substantially shorten their time in prison by attending classes and graduating with certified diplomas in skills and trades.


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