September 5, 2023

MDOC Celebrates First Female Welders To Graduate In Mississippi History

Morgan Howard

According to a release from the Mississippi Department of Corrections, ten female inmates became the first-ever graduating class in the MDOC’s welding vocational program.
This accomplishment happened on the grounds of the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl. These ten women were among the first last year to enroll in classroom study and master welding.
They started with simulators in MDOC’s new welding trailer that moves among different prisons across the state every 90 days.
MDOC said that the inmates have to pass rigorous tests before they are certified by the National Center for Construction Education & Research, the national standard in construction training.
MDOC said that the ten graduates met that standard and will now be employable in a multitude of heavy industry from ironworks to shipbuilding. MDOC Commissioner Burl Cain said many of the inmates completing the program will help teach other inmates following them.
“We have to have these first ones with their degrees, certified and qualified, so they can become teachers so we can have more degrees,” Commissioner Cain said. “A lot of people here need to learn how to weld, get a good job.”
Erica Smith, MCIW Program Director, said finding a job is a major step toward success in life after incarceration, and that crucial step is a challenge for many inmates after leaving prison.
“One of the major issues women have when they’re released from prison is they can’t find work. So we want to give them something that will help them gain employment when they leave and to help build a promising future,” Smith said.
The next step is hosting a job fair at the prison, which Mississippi construction industries have signed up to attend, including Ingalls Shipyards and others who need welders. Inmates can substantially shorten their time in prison by attending classes and graduating with certified diplomas in skills and trades.
The Mobile Welding Training Center, unveiled in December 2021, is housed in a 53-foot-long refurbished 18-wheel trailer. The Center includes eight high-tech welding simulators and was constructed using no taxpayer funds.

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