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Mississippi training inmates for welding careers

December 18, 2021 GMT

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A new program will give Mississippi inmates more opportunities for a high-paying career after serving their time.

Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Burl Cain and staff on Friday unveiled a Mobile Welding Training Center in Jackson. The 53-foot-long, 18-wheel trailer houses eight high-tech welding simulators where inmates can train for careers in welding. And, since the unit is mobile, it will be moved around for use at all the state’s correctional facilities.

“Mississippi is working hard to reduce the recidivism rate,” Cain said. “One of the main reasons inmates come back when they’re released is they have inadequate job skills. We can help them overcome this with training and that keeps our communities safer.”

Pedro Moreno, deputy commissioner of the state’s Re-entry Programs, said when they started the program they began by asking what kind of skilled employees are Mississippi businesses looking to hire?

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“Mississippi’s manufacturing and construction industries are doing well, so MDOC is matching our vocational training with workforce needs,” Moreno said.

The Mississippi Department of Corrections, Mississippi Prison Industries Corporation and the Veterans Career Training Education Center refurbished a Mayflower moving van to create the mobile unit. It saves the state the expense of constructing training buildings at each prison and it was built with no taxpayer funds.

The mobile classroom will move between state prisons every 90 days, long enough for inmate apprentices to become certified. Instructors can train 32 inmates a day.

“We will be training welders, both men and women,” Moreno said. “We are first opening up the program to women at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility. About 100 have applied so far.”

After training is complete and the inmates are paroled, MDOC will also help with job placement.