Fifty-eight incarcerated individuals received industry accredited job certifications at San Quentin State Prison (SQ) on Feb. 8. Graduates took part in the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) job training programs. They received certifications in Computer Coding (Code.7370), Audio Visual Production, Pre-Apprentice Construction Labor, and Healthcare Facilities Maintenance.
“I want to congratulate you for your accomplishments today. You all have demonstrated that you can make good decisions,” said CALPIA General Manager Bill Davidson. “The fact that you are in the positions you are in, you are here today graduating from those programs, demonstrates you are making good decisions that can help you with a successful future.”
Along with CALPIA, the job-training programs are made possible through partnerships with CDCR, San Francisco non-profit The Last Mile (TLM), and Laborer’s Training and Retraining Trust Fund for Northern California.
Acting Warden Oak Smith also recognized the graduates.
“You should be very proud. This is a big accomplishment. All the rest of us can do is provide opportunities,” said Smith. “No one can do the work except for you. Today, celebrate the hard work you have done.”
Former graduates discuss outside success
Kevin Kelly, a former CALPIA graduate, knows what it takes to be successful after leaving prison. He says the skills he learned in the coding program continue to help him with his career. Kelly now works for The Last Mile as a Returned Citizen Advocate.
“If I can do it, so can you. I’m not going to pretend that any of this is easy. It’s hard work. But I’m standing here today telling you, it is worth it,” said Kelly. “We are all capable of changing the trajectory of our lives. CALPIA is equipping you with the right tools for the job. Take full advantage. Taking what you have learned here and applying it is key. Think about what you have already accomplished.”
In addition, former CALPIA/TLM graduate Chris Schuhmacher attended and shared his success story. He is now a software engineer for Checkr in the Bay Area.
CALPIA’s Code.7370 program started in 2014 at San Quentin. The program continues to have a zero percent recidivism rate. Code.7370 simulates a live coding environment without internet access.
Graduation is more than job certifications
Family and staff cheered on the graduates. Graduate Ricky Romero received his certification in Computer Coding and Audio-Visual Production.
“Who we are today is not by chance. It’s because of our accomplishments. The result of us not quitting. The result of us believing in ourselves,” said Romero. “Believing in each other. Believing that people like those that work for CALPIA and TLM, who have invested in us, and have made a commitment to provide us valuable skills that will set us up for a successful future once released.”
CALPIA programs reduce recidivism and enhance prison and public safety by providing incarcerated individuals with life-changing job training opportunities for successful reentry. According to a recent University of California, Irvine study, by three years after release, only 15% of CALPIA participants had been returned to custody.
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