SPOKANE, Wash. Offenders at Airway Heights Corrections Center are receiving training that officials said will ultimately help the state’s aerospace industry.
Some offenders enter the corrections center having not graduated from high school. The new program allows them to leave with college credits.
One man came to the center without a high school diploma or a G.E.D.
“I got my G.E.D while I was in this class. Math was the hardest thing I struggled with, but now I can actually do basic trigonometry and a little bit of calculus,” Adam Rees, an offender, said.
Rees and other offenders in the lab are enrolled in a new composites program that is one of the first in the Department of Corrections in Washington State.
Offenders can earn a certificate to become certified aerospace composites technicians upon completion of the three quarter vocational program taught through Spokane Community College. At the same time, they earn a G.E.D and 49 college credits.
“They can do anything in almost any of the manufacturers that are out there, at an entry level. We are not taking them to the top level, just a one year certificate,” David Murley, Spokane Community College Dean of Instruction for Corrections Education, said.
Education officials said the valuable vocational training received in confinement helps prevent offenders from reoffending when they get out.
“I may get turned down 100 times at jobs… but there are not a lot of people that have this skill set and so that give me that extra edge and it gives me the confidence of not staying a career criminal. That's not what I want to be. That's why I took this class,” Rees said.
The corrections center will graduate its first group of certified aerospace composite technicians next January.