MDOC says the training center will move to South Mississippi Correctional Institution (SMCI) in Leakesville.

In December 2021, the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) announced the creation of its Mobile Welding Training Center at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County, which housed eight high-tech welding simulators to train inmates for careers in welding.

On Monday, thirty-two women completed a 3-month course becoming the first graduating class of MDOC Welding. They will finish their training on real welding machines, a process that will take approximately one more month.

After welding on the machines, the women will take proficiency exams and will get the same certification as professional welders set by the NCCER upon passage.

In a release from MDOC, inmate Rebecca Pennington said she appreciates the opportunity to participate in a program that has already turned her life toward a better future. A native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, she plans to seek employment at the shipyards putting her welding skills to use after release.

“I’ve got a lot of knowledge and confidence to get out and do better. Having a skill will help make that happen because the life I was living, I had no skills and no way to make money. Now I can be a productive member of society and be free,” Pennington said.

After five months of helping to train the thirty-two incarcerated women, MDOC’s Mobile Welding Training Center is now moving to another location to train more inmates.

The mobile unit will go to the South Mississippi Correctional Institution (SMCI) in Leakesville in Greene County next. At SMCI, 32 male inmates will train for the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER).