4-week course teaches post-prison job skills to Oregon inmates

Published: Oct. 12, 2022 at 9:10 PM PDT
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WILSONVILLE, Ore (KPTV) — Adults in custody at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville have an opportunity to learn a new trade skill for jobs post-incarceration.

The new program uses simulation technology to train women at the correctional facility to use heavy construction machinery. Officials said more than 100 people applied but only 12 were selected. One of those is Garcilia Sanchez who has been incarcerated for six years.

“With this program alone, it opens the door for a lot of us,” Sanchez said.

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The four-week course is funded by a three-year federal grant totaling $900,000 through the Bureau of Justice Assistance Second Chance Act. Officials at the prison said they considered the applicant’s time of release and security level to be chosen. Some also in the program already have experience working with heavy machinery. The class is taught by an instructor from Baker Technical Institute. The 26-foot-long trailer where the course is taught will give adults in custody at several correctional facilities across the state the opportunity to learn a skill that is in high demand in the construction industry.

“I just think this is the type of field I could see myself in,” Sanchez said. “Just doing the program, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the machines and getting to work on the machines. I definitely want to carry this outside of here.”

The program is more than educational, it can also be therapeutic for those taking part, including Sanchez.

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“It’s a high-demand job and us being females, it helps us too, to get in and not have that like ‘oh females can’t do anything.’”

Officials with Coffee Creek Correctional Facility said the trailer will be back two more times for two more rounds of courses. Sanchez said she’s excited to leave and use the skills learned to find a good-paying job. She said her family couldn’t be more eager to see what’s next.

“They definitely and they’re proud of me and they just want the best for me outside of here,” Sanchez said.