MDOC graduates first class of welders

Breacker Johnson, inmate parole candidate, trains on high-tech welding simulator
Breacker Johnson, inmate parole candidate, trains on high-tech welding simulator(source: MDOC)
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 4:55 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - It’s ladies first with the Mississippi Department of Corrections graduating its first-phase class of welders.

Last December, MDOC christened a Mobile Welding Training Center to train inmates in welding to help them get good-paying jobs when they get out.

On May 16, 2022, thirty-two women completed a 3-month course using high-tech simulators and, thus, became the first-phase graduating class of MDOC Welding. Now, they’ll complete their training on real welding machines, a process that will take about one more month.

Brecker Johnson, an inmate parole candidate, said, “Upon release, I want to further my future with welding and just build my future up better because I’m going out of here with nothing. And with welding, there’s a lot of job opportunities out there, and I plan to grab a hold to as many as I can with what I know.”

Grace McCarty, who is paroling in December, said, “I originally signed up for this because I want to open my own horticulture business with a greenhouse, so I wanted to do yard art, but since I’ve been into the program, I could actually see myself making a career out of this. I want that kind of money, so I could see myself doing it.”

After welding on actual machines, the graduates will take proficiency exams and, if they pass, will get the same certification as professional welders set by the National Center for Construction Education and Research.

Now, the Mobile Welding Training Center moves to South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Leakesville in Greene County. Thirty-two inmates there, all men, are next to train for their N-C-C-E-R welding certifications.

Ingalls Shipyards in Pascagoula announced just last year that it needed 3,000 more welders. That’s when Commissioner Burl Cain retrofitted a Mayflower moving van into a Mobile Welding Center instead of building expensive welding classrooms at each prison.

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