Road Prison Welding Program Gives Inmates Skills, Success After Incarceration

August 16, 2017

When Welding Instructor Danny Cain hands certificates to Escambia County Road Prison inmates who have completed the welding program at the prison, it’s not unusual to see tears begin to run down their cheeks.

The certificates inmates earn while incarcerated are much more than just pieces of paper – for many, they represent opportunities to build a better future outside of prison.

“It gives them a sense of accomplishment, and they know they can do something if they want to,” Cain said. “And that builds character in a person – that builds morals in a person. And a lot of them get out of here and do the right thing, get out and work.”

Cain began teaching at the Escambia County Road Prison in 2010 with George Stone Technical Center, offering nationally-recognized certifications including stick welding, pipe welding, MIG and TIG welding, or metal inert gas and tungsten inert gas. He typically teaches 12-14 students at a time, all of whom choose to opt into the program during their time at the road prison.

And with a growing number of success stories, Cain said he doesn’t have any problem filling up the class.

“They see people getting out and getting jobs,” Cain said. “They see people getting out and making money, and they say, ‘That’s what I want.’”

During the 2016-17 school year, 30 inmates participated in the welding program through the county’s partnership with George Stone Technical Center. George Stone issued 45 Occupational Certificates of Participation for various welding disciplines, and 21 of the 30 inmates received American Welding Society National Certifications that are recognized through the United States. In the 2015-16 school year, 26 inmates participated in the program, with 23 receiving American Welding Society National Certifications and 66 Occupational Certificates of Participation issued.

Cain stays in frequent contact with at least 14 of his students from the past two years who are now working in the welding field, and another 10 former students are recently released and seeking employment. Of the 56 inmates who have participated in the welding program since 2015, just five have been rearrested.

Former inmates and students in the program are now working everywhere from Oklahoma City to New Orleans, using their new skillset to advance in the welding industry.

Brian Mills, who spent about five months at the road prison in 2013, said he largely credits Cain and the welding program for the opportunities and success he’s found since getting out of prison. With more than 60 felonies on his record, Mills said he did not have much hope for his future career – but receiving his welding certifications changed that.

“When I got out of prison, I didn’t have anything at all, and [Cain] lined me up a job here in Louisiana,” Mills said. “I came over here and started at the bottom, and I just purchased a brand new built house in a brand new subdivision. I’m doing very, very well.”

Having the skills to be able to secure job opportunities after their release is critical for those who have been incarcerated, Mills said. Unlike some other prison educational programs that have long waits and may require months or years to complete, Mills said it’s helpful that some of the welding certifications can be completed by those who aren’t incarcerated for lengthy periods of time.

“For the county to have that program where they’re doing a short amount of time and they’re able to get a bit of welding underneath them, it’s very helpful,” Mills said.

Road Prison Commander Charles Snow said he’s seen firsthand how the welding program can positively impact lives, also stressing the importance of having a solid set of skills to be able to reenter the workforce after incarceration. Snow said that Cain goes above and beyond to help connect his students with good jobs, whether it’s local or out of state.

“They have a job to go into, they have a profession where they can actually prepare a good wage,” Snow said. “So it’s life-changing.”

Cain said it’s the life-changing impact of the program that keeps him going every day. He often receives letters and Facebook messages from former students, and he loves hearing their stories about working, providing for their families and positively contributing to society.

“If they come in here with no skills at all and leave with a trade, I don’t see how you can beat that, really,” Cain said. “And I try to teach them to be more than a welder – I try to teach them to be a man, and step up and do the right thing. I can’t change their past, but I can change their future.”


13 Responses to “Road Prison Welding Program Gives Inmates Skills, Success After Incarceration”

  1. Steph Wells on August 18th, 2017 8:45 am

    What a wonderful program! We need more like this, more Mr.Cains too!
    Congratulations to the men that seized this opportunity and made the most of it!!
    I also agree that high schools should bring back vo-tech training programs-and encourage girls to take these too. They teach a lot more than skills and a trade!
    Again, outstanding work, and congratulations to all!

  2. Willis on August 17th, 2017 5:04 am

    Sure make some nice BBQ grills.

  3. Dan on August 16th, 2017 7:57 pm

    This program is available at George stone I took it in the early 90s when I was in high school. The school has all sorts of financial help if someone wants to attend without money all they have to do is apply. So what I’m saying is don’t make excuses for those who don’t want to better themselves

  4. citizen on August 16th, 2017 6:42 pm

    Good story, good man. Wear your safety glasses/welding lens or you will go blind looking at the arc.

  5. nod on August 16th, 2017 5:07 pm

    If they had this program available for people that never went to jail and it said it was free maybe there would be less trouble and pwople in jail.

  6. Joseph Shane Wilson on August 16th, 2017 4:07 pm

    I went to the camp for a about 8 months between 2013- 2014 I was accepted to the welding class with Mr Cain. I received my welding certificate while I was there and got to learn a trade after I was able to get a job with in a short time welding at a company in Pensacola that me and my family are very proud of.

  7. Bry Yerg on August 16th, 2017 1:13 pm

    Danny Cain is a fine Christian man who has done a lot for our Community! I think it’s wonderful that he is helping to rehabilitate those who want help and are incarcerated.

  8. Spmommy3 on August 16th, 2017 12:14 pm

    So glad this program is still available to the inmates. I wish the road prison would bring back the other classes that were cut several years ago. Rehabilitation is the key.

  9. Bob C. on August 16th, 2017 11:42 am

    AWESOME Program and need more of these for the other craftsman skills.

    Public Schools have done our students a HUGE DISSERVICE by dropping the Shop. Woodworking, Carpentry, Bricklaying, Welding, Auto Mechanics, Homemaking Skills curriculum in favor of playing games and such on cell phones.

    I rate the guys who work on the brakes of my truck right there with my heart doctor as both help keep me alive.

  10. willy on August 16th, 2017 7:51 am

    Danny is a fine man who truly cares about the guys he’s teaching. He can’t help them all, but the skills he gives them often changes their lives and gives them a skill to be productive and a positive member of society. Great job Danny!

  11. Dick on August 16th, 2017 6:28 am

    Thank God for Mr. Cain and his willingness to go above and beyond to help those willing to help themselves. I’m happy to see him get some measure of recognition for his dedication. This program and others like it save much taxpayer’s money; more importantly, it save lives, literally. Congratulations to all involved.

  12. lawson on August 16th, 2017 4:56 am

    That’s what I call “Making a Difference”. Mr Cain has sure left his mark on the world! Good work, Danny!

  13. Sedition on August 16th, 2017 3:44 am

    Now THAT’S rehabilitation! Give them a skill so that they have a fighting chance on the outside to get their lives back on the straight and narrow.

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