Automotive Pre-Learning at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center Breaks New Ground


February 23, 2022

By Danielle Jiménez

Department of Corrections

Walla Walla Community College (WWCC) has partnered with Coyote Ridge Corrections Center and was approved for the Independent Technician Committee (iTAC) Automotive Pre-Apprenticeship Program in October 2021. The pre-apprenticeship track guarantees the acceptance into an apprenticeship after release from Coyote Ridge Corrections Center. Students complete their books and also gain hands-on learning in the CRCC automotive shop.

Photos were taken before the facility was in an outbreak state, the students are currently in quarantine and have been given all of their books to work on until they can return to the auto shop when the status of establishment-wide epidemic is lifted.

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A new Automotive Pre-Apprenticeship program at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center (CRCC) will now give incarcerated individuals the opportunity to learn automotive skills and earn professional credentials. This will allow them to earn competitive wages, find meaningful work, and pursue lifelong learning in the automotive industry.

Walla Walla Community College (WWCC) has partnered with Coyote Ridge Corrections Center and has been approved for the Independent Automotive Technicians Committee (iTAC) Automotive Pre-Apprenticeship Program October 2021. Approval was granted by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

Although Coyote Ridge has had an automotive certificate class for approximately 12 years, the pre-apprenticeship track ensures acceptance into an apprenticeship after release from Coyote Ridge Correctional Center and allows for an easier path to the workforce qualified and certified that students hope to join upon completion of their courses. Completed.

“It’s like a one-year certificate from any college,” Denise Kammers, dean of correctional education at WWCC told CCRC. “Just like you get an AA at community college, these guys take three support classes in math, writing, and communication, plus automotive classes.”

The Automotive Repair Technology certificate is equivalent to the first year of the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Automotive Repair Technology, Kammers said.

This opportunity will allow students who complete a one-year automotive certificate to earn 500 hours toward a nationally recognized professional credential.

Upon release, they can work to become a General Service Technician, which requires 2,000 hours, or a Master Service Technician, which requires 8,000 hours, and obtain a Washington State certificate.

“Were making connections for their outing,” said Douglas LeClair II, CRCC Automotive Instructor. “The iTAC program is recognized by the Automotive Service Association Washington [ASA] and he represents stores statewide. At 2000 hours you can do 80% of a master service technician, and after a year with our program they are already coming out with 500 hours.

The Department of Corrections (DOC) currently funds all WWCC Basic Skills, Certificate, and AAS programs at Coyote Ridge. DOC believes in the benefit of investing in incarcerated people with pro-social programs to engage the incarcerated population and reduce recidivism, which is a relapse into criminal behavior after release.

“It’s really about the connections to be able to get a job,” LeClair said. “When they come out of our program, we’ll help them with resumes. Not only do we use our local connections through the college, but the ASA helps build connections all over Washington.

In Washington state, people are released in their home county, LeClair said, so incarcerated at the CRCC could end up statewide once released. He added that it was important for the program to allow a network of potential jobs to spread throughout the state and beyond.

“We represent Walla Walla and the Tri-Cities, but people are being released in Spokane, Yakima and the West Side,” LeClair said. “The benefit of this program is that it allows us to build partnerships across the state and our goal is to reintegrate and put people into jobs to give guys the opportunity to get out there and earn a living. “

These programs provide incarcerated individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to obtain full-time employment upon release. More than 95% of people currently incarcerated in Washington State will be released, and educated people are much less likely to reoffend and reenter the prison system.

In 2013, a study by the RAND Corporation, sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, showed an average reduction of 43% in recidivism and a 13% increase in employment for offenders participating in the programs.

“There’s a huge need for technicians, it’s more important than ever, so these guys will be ahead of the game,” LeClair said. “It’s one more opportunity for the start of the school year. Many people are hired immediately – One person I know was hired on the spot. The goal is ultimately a new path adding to all of their paths.

Governor Jay Inslee issued Executive Order 16-05, “Building Safe and Strong Communities Through Successful Reintegration” in April 2016, directing state agencies to improve employment and assistance opportunities for newly released offenders. One aspect of this order deals with improvements to post-secondary education in correctional settings.

In addition to the automotive program, WWCC at CRCC also offers workforce certificates in digital design and carpentry, and AAS diplomas in HVAC and welding. CRCC’s WWCC is the first community and technical college in the state to offer a bachelor’s degree to incarcerated individuals.

This BAS in Business Management builds on existing educational programs that offer a Certificate in Entrepreneurship, an AAS in Business, and an AAS in Social and Human Services. The BAS is funded by the Federal Pell Second Chance Program.

“Put simply, it changes lives! LeClair said. “The feedback we get from former students is that they go out and get jobs, and that’s really how we measure success. Even if it’s not about automobiles – if it’s about trailers or forklifts – it’s all in the transportation industry. People can go out and find a job. This reduces recurrence.

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