Women Behind Bars Getting Help Building Technical Skills To Find A Job

FOLSOM PRISON (CBS13) — Two-dozen women at Folsom Prison are now graduating with the hope of a different type of career thanks to high-tech training.

Monica Oliva is doing her 13th year behind prison walls.

“I’ve been arrested with assault with a deadly weapon and use of a firearm,” she said. “But I’m soon to be released.”

With the help of a Bay Area software company, she’ll have a new beginning. Autodesk is helping women in prison learn computer skills in architectural, mechanical or engineering design.

“We came in with no computer experience and they have taught us these extensive programs,” said Caitlin Churchill.

It’s one of dozens of job development programs offered by the self-funded California Prison Industry Authority.

Once the women serve their time, they’ll have a chance to make a decent salary in the workplace.

“Wages are usually between $50,000 and $80,000, and it varies depending what kind of the coast you’re on obviously,” said general manager Charles Pattillo.

State officials say the training programs are a win-win for Californians. They say it reduces the likelihood of a return to prison, saving taxpayers in the end.

“I’ve also earned my business degree so I’ve used this time wisely,” Oliva said.

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