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Inmates graduate job prep program in Watsonville

WATSONVILLE, Calif. (KION-TV)- Nine inmates had a graduation ceremony celebrating the completion of a five-week job skill program. The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office held the ceremony in Watsonville.

The "In2Work" Program is designed to give graduates job-ready food service skills while in custody to help them transition back into the workforce and community.

"I didn't think this would be offered to us here, with COVID and everything going on," said graduate Steve Walsh. "We don't get to see our families, and this gave us something to look forward to when we come out to give our families."

This is the second graduation ceremony held by the program. The first graduation had four graduates.

Aramark sponsors the program, and they added that 30% of their employees were formerly incarcerated.

"I haven't been able to say I've had the education or the work experience," said graduate Mitchell Perez. "It's pretty awesome. I was able to get something I could say I committed to. I showed up every day. I was able to put my best foot forward."

The program is currently only available to men, but the hope is women can apply for the program in the future.

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