In the continued mission toward building successful re-integration and rehabilitation through job training opportunities, the California Prison Industry Authority (CalPIA) hosted an apprenticeship and graduation ceremony for 34 inmates at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison (CVSP) on Nov. 13.

"The (CalPIA) is a self-supporting state entity dedicated to teaching offenders real world job skills, giving them the opportunity to make successful transitions back to their home communities," noted CalPIA.

The ceremony, with CalPIA Chief of External Affairs Michele Kane serving as host, saw families, as well as CVSP staff, visiting dignitaries, resident leadership and program instructors in attendance to applaud the graduates.

Among the apprenticeship Certificates of Completion presented were for programs including laundry service and healthcare facility maintenance specialists.

Anthony Torres, an HMF (Healthcare Maintenance Facilities) graduate who has approximately 19 months left on his sentence, noted the importance of the available technical curriculum.

"It's a job that has transferable skills," said Torres, adding that the program's certification afforded him the opportunity to learn viable initial training, pertinent communication skills, and familiarity with the field's equipment.

Visiting CalPIA General Manager Scott Walker – who began his career in the CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) at Folsom Prison in 1986 – served as one of the afternoon ceremony's speakers.

"The reason why we are here is because you guys have decided to take a step in the right direction," said Walker. "You're making the choice to contribute back into society."

In underlining the importance of re-integrating back into a civilian workforce with journeyman trade skills, Walker noted the gravity of inmates seizing opportunities for both career and personal goals – providing a clearer path with real world confidence to apply in the civilian sector.

Walker noted to the Times a couple of CalPIA programs the entity is currently working on implementing – in fields such as roofing, auto cab, and more.

CVSP Acting Warden David Holbrook also congratulated the graduates, adding:

"This is a defining moment that defines you."

A CVSP band sang a rendition of "Take it Easy" by The Eagles before the presentation of certificates.

Jeff Macomber, Undersecretary of Administration for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, served as the ceremony's keynote speaker.

"We came a long way from where we were; and we have a long ways to go," said Macomber, echoing the direction CDCR is placing on according trade and skills-based rehabilitation programs. "It's been my pleasure to be here today. Congratulations to you all."

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