Rain couldn’t dampen the spirits at a graduation ceremony hosted by the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) at RJ Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD) in early November.
Forty-one graduates received their nationally recognized job certifications and/or state-certified apprenticeships.
CDCR Secretary and Prison Industry Board Chair Kathleen Allison spoke at the graduation.
“We believe in second chances, and this is your second chance,” said Secretary Allison. “You are breaking that cycle of incarceration for generations to come. We applaud you for your accomplishments.”
‘Hard work, commitment and dedication’
Family and staff cheered on the graduates. CALPIA’s General Manager Bill Davidson also shared words of encouragement.
“Today is the culmination of a lot of hard work, commitment, and dedication on your part,” said General Manager Davidson. “Thank you for taking the initiative and signing up for our programs and being that example of good when you return home.”
Associate Warden Laurene Payne also recognized the graduates for a job well-done.
“We here at RJ Donovan are honored to see you graduate and wish you all the best,” said Associate Warden Payne. “As I have heard before, today’s incarcerated is tomorrow’s neighbor and we believe in that.”
CALPIA programs reduce recidivism and enhance prison and public safety by providing incarcerated individuals with job training opportunities for successful re-entry.
CALPIA success stories
Kenyatta Kalisana returned to his community in 2008, becoming a successful commercial diver thanks to CALPIA at California Institution for Men. He started working as a certified welder and commercial diver in California and then the Gulf of Mexico. Kalisana is now back in prison as the lead commercial dive instructor for CALPIA.
“Add more tools to your toolbox and continue to better yourselves and your employability,” said Kalisana. “Not only did CALPIA teach me a profession, they also showed me a forgiving nature and trust in the programs they stand behind.”
Participants graduated from various job training programs, including CALPIA’s Healthcare Facilities Maintenance (HFM) program. The program teaches participants how to clean at a hospital-level. Graduates work in hospitals, dental offices, and own their own cleaning businesses.
A former graduate who was incarcerated spoke about his success from the HFM program. Timothy Jackson is the CEO of Quality Touch Cleaning Systems in the San Diego area. He and his staff clean bio-tech companies, legal firms, and other businesses.
“The HFM program and CALPIA helped me to get where I am today. My hope is to empower your perspective for your future,” said Jackson. “Embrace post incarceration and be the best you as you move forward in life.”
By Michele Kane, CALPIA Assistant General Manager, External Affairs