The metal shop housed at the Two Rivers Correctional Institution (TRCI) offers a unique opportunity for adults in custody to learn the trade of welding and provide them with skills for a career upon their release. Former AICs who worked in the metal shop are now gainfully employed welders, working for reputable companies. Currently, there are seven AICs who have the coveted positions working inside the metal shop.
The most common projects fabricated in the metal shop are items like benches, tables, carts, and kitchen equipment. These items are put to use within the institution. Beyond the products fabricated for institution use, are items like firepits, stoves, gates, and signs.
Inside the metal shop, AICs can earn certifications in welding giving them the opportunity to be gainfully employed in iron work, heavy equipment manufacturing, metal fabrication, shipyards, and other manufacturing industries. It also provides an opportunity for a creative expression while learning the trade of welding.
Andrew Smith has been the shop coordinator at TRCI for 12 years, and really enjoys working with AICs, and providing them with a roadmap for a successful future outside prison. AIC Jarrod Pardun, one of the program participants, shared an analogy about learning welding: it’s like a haircut “You can always fix a mistake when welding, like you can fix a bad haircut – it might not be perfect, but it won’t be as messed up as it was in the beginning”.