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Transforming Lives

HCATF's Carpenter Correctional Facilities Program Opens New Doors

In the heart of our community, the Hawaii Carpenters Apprenticeship & Training Fund (HCATF) is breaking new ground with a transformative initiative that’s changing lives and opening new horizons. The Carpenter Correctional Facilities Program, a collaborative effort with the Hawaii Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and Honolulu Community College (HCC), stands as a beacon of hope, embodying the power of second chances.

This innovative 6-week pre-apprenticeship program at Waiawa Correctional Facility (WCF) is tailored to equip inmates with essential carpentry skills, setting them on a direct path to the Hawaii Carpenters Apprenticeship Program upon their release. Kerry Iwashita, the Education Supervisor at WCF, sheds light on the program’s profound impact and its ripple effect on the community.

A New Pathway to Opportunity

The program targets individuals nearing their release, offering them a chance to pivot towards a promising future. “WCF serves as a transition facility where vocational programs are in high demand,” explains Iwashita. The high level of interest led to a competitive selection process, resulting in a highly motivated class of ten participants.

Iwashita highlights the program’s high retention rate, attributing it to the value participants see in this opportunity. “The majority of the guys understand this is a big opportunity…they know that it is a solid paying job, something that’s relatively stable and with benefits,” he says.

The Power of Partnership

The collaboration between HCATF, WCF, and HCC is a testament to the collective effort’s power. Iwashita’s role involves ensuring the program’s smooth operation and maintaining a conducive learning environment. The supportive stance of the warden and the facility’s adaptation to accommodate the program’s needs are key factors in its success.

Impact Beyond Walls

The program’s success is evident in the participants’ enthusiasm and commitment. “The guys see the value of vocational programs…they understand that they’re picking up a useful skill that translates into consistent income,” notes Iwashita. This initiative not only provides inmates with a viable career path but also addresses the broader issue of recidivism by integrating them back into society as productive members.

Looking Ahead

With plans for additional cohorts, the future of the program looks promising. Iwashita expresses hope for expansion and continued support from HCATF. “The primary programs the guys want are our vocational programs because they understand it makes sense,” he says, highlighting the importance of educational programs that translate into tangible career paths.

Overcoming Challenges & Embracing Opportunities

The program has faced challenges, particularly with tool use and security logistics. However, the dedicated efforts of the facility’s staff have ensured that these hurdles are overcome, maintaining security and safety.

The potential for expanding the program to other facilities and demographics is on the horizon, with HCATF planning to roll out a similar program at a female correctional facility. This development highlights the program’s commitment to inclusivity and its broad-reaching impact.

A Call for Continued Support & Expansion

As the Carpenter Correctional Facilities Program continues to evolve, there’s a clear call for continued support and expansion. This initiative is not merely a training program; it’s a lifeline that offers individuals a second chance and a brighter future. By investing in these individuals’ potential, HCATF is not only forging new futures but also strengthening the very foundation of our society.

Expanding Horizons

HCATF is proud to announce the program’s reach now includes a parallel initiative at the Women’s Community Correctional Center in Kaneohe, empowering eight participants through a similar partnership. This expansion further underscores the program’s commitment to creating opportunities and transforming lives across the community.

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