He encourages body shops to be patient with new technicians who might have gone through a similar program and “not to give up on these guys.”
“You might have to sift through a few bad apples before you find a good one but don’t give up because we are out there,” said Jones.
Studies have repeatedly shown that increasing education initiatives in prison lead to lower recidivism rates.
“Most of the men and women entering correctional facilities lack the literacy and employment skills needed to succeed in our communities upon release,” according to the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. “Offenders who are provided opportunities to gain job skills are much more likely to be successful in the community upon release and educated offenders are statistically less likely to commit additional crimes.”
To help reverse this trend, in-prison educational programs are offered by community and technical colleges around the country. The goal is to educate incarcerated individuals so they can re-enter society and be able to work and contribute.
Walla Walla Community College in Walla Walla, WA, is one of these. The college has established an in-prison auto body and diesel mechanic program at Washington State Penitentiary and an automotive mechanics program at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center.
Washington State Penitentiary
Hired through Walla Walla Community College, Brickey has worked as the auto body instructor for Washington State Penitentiary for the last decade. Prior to that, he instructed at Columbia Basin College for five years and has worked in collision repair facilities for more than 20 years.
On a typical day, Brickey’s students spend about six hours a day, five days a week, at the body shop, which was set up at the minimum-security unit of the facility by the college and Department of Corrections. Teaching up to 18 students at a time, Brickey teaches them how to repair vehicles for the surrounding community following the same curriculum that is taught on the college campus.
Students have the option of participating in a nine-month program or working toward an associates degree. Upon graduating, they receive a certificate from the community college.