A partnership between the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office Community Corrections division and South Louisiana Community College is offering inmates a technical diploma track in Welding. The program began last year.
As part of LPSO’s Re-Entry Program, qualifying inmates, who are close to release, can enroll in the welding track, which prepares them for a lucrative career upon exit from the corrections facility.
“It’s a win-win for both re-entering offenders that have aptly served their time, the workforce, the taxpayer, and the community-at-large,” says Andre Perez, executive director of Academic Initiatives for SLCC. “Many times upon release, the incarcerated do not possess the advanced education or skills necessary to secure gainful employment. Because of this, many are not afforded opportunities to succeed and often return to illegitimate means to reach desired goals. For 53 percent of repeat offenders, rising recidivism rates are a result of not having adequate opportunity structures available to succeed in a legitimate fashion, which creates a larger burden on the taxpayer due to costly re-incarceration rates.”
As part of this partnership, a Mobile Welding Training Unit (40-foot trailer) is on loan to LPSO from SLCC and contains eight fully-equipped welding bays. The mobile unit allows for the training and skills development of inmates to become highly skilled welders.
“The LPSO/SLCC partnership offers a second chance for many inmates that may not have the opportunities to succeed once they are released back into the community,” said Donavan LaGrange, Community Corrections manager for LPSO. “The region is in need of well-trained, highly-skilled welders. What a wonderful way to prepare inmates to succeed in a career pathway that is in high-demand and offers outstanding pay.”
In addition to the welding program, a culinary arts pathway and other programs are being considered for the future.
Recently, two inmate-students fulfilled all program requirements to earn a Technical Diploma in Welding Technology. They will be honored at a ceremony taking place Wednesday, Aug. 29 at the LPSO Safety Complex located at 1825 W. Willow Street in Lafayette. Upon release from the Safety Complex, these graduates will be eligible to work within an industry that is in dire need of well-trained welders.