The Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) has graduated its first-phase class of welders.
After five months of the department’s new mobile training welding center being located at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County, 32 women have completed a course aimed at providing the necessary skills to go into welding post-incarceration.
Inmate Rebecca Pennington says the program has turned her life to a better future as she plans to work at one of the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s shipyards upon release.
“I’ve got a lot of knowledge and confidence to get out and do better,” Pennington said. “Having a skill will help make that happen because the life I was living, I had no skills and no way to make money. Now, I can be a productive member of society and be free.”
The 32 women will now spend one month training on real welding machines before taking proficiency exams. If passed, they will receive the same certification as professional welders set by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER).
Next up for the mobile training welding center will be a stop at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Greene County, where 32 male inmates will have the opportunity to be trained.