Limited Employment Opportunities: Fighting For What I Do Have
Work before being a felon is easy to obtain. I don’t care what kind of job I had so long as I was working. Anyone who says that it’s too hard to find a job has very little drive or some serious physical limitations. In prison, traditionally it was easy to get job training and prison to prison it differs.
Each one has different programs that are under different criteria. Like the DOC website claims that there is automotive programs, welding programs and classes that offer degrees and specialized training. Sounds good, but in reality, that is only in camp and when its not in camp you have to get special clearances. Like me in Stafford Creek I dont have hub access, which means I can’t work Correctional Industries (just wait until I rant and rave about Correctional Industries…those bastards are dirtier then the mob…real talk) and I can’t take any programs that are out there because i have technical life. I have to parole out. My charges are like a 95% parole rate as long as I take my required programming successfully. I am worried about my parole, but I am more worried about my job opportunities.
My only real shot in my current prison is the kitchen. Since I transferred here to SCCC from across the state, btw-at Airway Heights Corrections I had hub access and it is also a Minimum Security prison like Stafford Creek, but here the rules are different for whatever reason-my only shot at getting any kind of resume building job training is as a cook. Everything else is mundane. Its hard to convince a potential employer that you are an asset when your previous decade of job training is as a recreation porter and a recycling porter. Neither of which carry any real responsibility.
So as a cook I learn how to do the most. I can say that I cooked for 2000 people a day and do it successfully. I know all the proper food prep procedures and how to use steam kettles, walk-in ovens and everything in between. But now that Correctional Industries is taking over they willbe consolodating our crews to one shift of cooks, we currently have 21 cooks over two shifts, we will need to be brought down to a more realistic 10-12 and one shift because they are removing one meal a day and giving us boxed breakfast’s…like children.
Although the meals are going to get less and they will become awful as they are across the state, that is not my concern. My main concern is defending what I have worked for. I don’t have any shot, until I move to another prison, at job training. Since I want to stay close to my family I want to stay at either Monroe or Stafford Creek, but my options are quickly diminishing to having to choose between family visits and future employment. A really tough decision because my parole board will determine my eligibility for parole based on how many visits I receive. This helps them deterime how much community support I have. No support, no release. So it is a tough choice to make.
I will be filling my days fighting for my right to get training. In an environment that is as tough as this one is, I can’t rely on strength and bullying to get a job as everyone else does. I have to be noticed. How do I maintain that? If you want a good job here you have to be Solid and your buddies have to work there, white or black. But you aren’t going to walk in there and get any job unless you are welcomed by the other inmates. It is closely guarded. So for a guy like me to have a job like a cook (a job that is highly coveted) as a gay man and one that doesn’t have a solid charge is amazing and a real God delivered opportunity.
Guess I will just have to rely on Him more and more.
Jeff Utnage 823469