Welding program helps prepare inmates for life outside prison

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ROSWELL, N.M. – Inmates at the Roswell Correctional Center are working to get their American Welders Society certification.

RCC is one of two facilities, in New Mexico that offer an educational-based welding program.

“It’s a really great opportunity for the individuals that find themselves incarcerated, they got plenty of time. If they sign up for this welding program, it’s a way for them to obtain new marketable skills,” said Juan Muniz, the welding instructor at RCC.

Muniz says inmates study hard for the program.

“We meet in the classroom for a little bit of an amount of time, and then the majority of it is about 90-95% of it is hands-off in the welding booth,” said Muniz.

The state’s correctional department wants to prepare inmates for life outside the facility.

“I didn’t think it but now I see that these educators, they really care to see us go, they want to see us not come back,” said William Crawford, inmate.

Inmates say it gives them a sense of hope for the future.

“Being able to kind of get outside my head and look at things from a different perspective and kind of have, you know, hope for the future and a better idea of what I might be doing down the road is a nice reprieve,” said David Nun, another inmate.

The program just started up again following a break during the pandemic. Muniz says the welding program is making an impact.

“It provides a livable wage, it provides something that they can take out there, and that adds value to them, so they can market themselves,” says Muniz. “I truly believe this program can make a better New Mexico one inmate at a time.”