At the regular board meeting of Texarkana College (TC) trustees, Brandon Washington, TC’s Vice President of Campus Operations and Dean of Workforce Education, reported that TC has been approved by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) to begin offering welding courses in Fall 2023 to inmates at the Barry B. Telford Unit located in New Boston, Texas. The Barry B. Telford Unit is operated by the TDCJ and is a maximum-security prison for male inmates that can house a maximum of 2,872 inmates. Washington said TC received word this month that $150,000 in TDCJ funding had been approved to purchase training equipment and materials for the program start up.
“Through TC’s partnership with the Barry B. Telford Unit, eligible inmates will now have access to training that will prepare them to reenter society with a career pathway as a welder,” said Washington. “TC’s workforce training programs provide skills that lead to jobs in regional high-demand occupations and there is a need for trained welders in our area. We are glad to have the opportunity to provide educational and career programs designed to assist incarcerated individuals with a successful transition back into the community once released.”
Washington said students will be able to earn workforce and academic credit.
“In Spring 2023, we will begin offering access to remote learning opportunities for inmates to earn academic credit toward the attainment of an associate degree,” said Washington, “In Fall 2023, approximately 40 eligible students will be admitted into the welding program to work toward earning their welding certificate,” said Washington.
Washington said with this plan, TC faculty members will provide instruction in person, and via an interactive, remote streaming service where inmates will participate in class virtually.
“Inmates will receive instruction from qualified and experienced faculty members who meet all the same standards required by TC’s accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).”
Washington said TC hopes to provide more training at the Telford Unit in the future.
“We will continue to explore and research more workforce training opportunities that are mutually beneficial to inmates and our community We are excited about the partnership with TDCJ and for the opportunity to collaborate with the Telford Unit’s warden and staff.”