Chino inmates get diver training


By Bob Barfield

CHINO, CA — An innovative education program is taking place at one local prison, aimed at teaching inmates a vocation they can use upon their release. Wednesday, a graduation ceremony was held in Chino.

There was an unusual and surprisingly upbeat ceremony today inside the walls of the California Institution for Men in Chino. Twenty-one inmates were recognized for successfully completing training programs to improve their chances of succeeding “on the outside.”

Rubin Minjarez of Victorville is due to be released this summer. He has meaningful employment lined up.

“And I’m looking forward to going to Alaska,” said Minjarez. “Commercial diving, hopefully, and you know I’ll be in the industry, so I’ll be on a barge, you know, probably tending at first and then diving when my time comes to the rotation.”

Twelve inmates have completed the prison’s marine technology training program. They’ll be deep-sea divers and support personnel in this specialized work.

Instructor Fred Johnson explained where the men might work.

“The offshore oil-exploration pipeline work, platform repair, harbor work, ship repair, a variety of underwater tasks,” said Johnson.

Johnson said the graduates from the unusual program are in great demand.

“We have guaranteed employment,” said Johnson. “We have contractors throughout the United States that are affiliated with the Association of Diving Contractors International.”

Eleven men received recognition for completing a training program in carpentry. They’re prepared to enter an apprenticeship program when released.

“It’s actually helped me to restore my relationships with my family that were lost,” said Minjarez. “And just this career opportunity, no I’m not in the military, you know, serving honorably like some of our other men and women, but this is to me something that’s great.”

It is not often that we hear about good things going on behind the prison walls here in the state of California. Wednesday’s graduation ceremony was one of those.


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