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Thirty-two female inmates graduate as...

Thirty-two female inmates graduate as first class of welders in MS Dept. of Corrections Welding Training Center

By: Anne Summerhays - May 17, 2022

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).

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Anne Summerhays

Anne Summerhays is a recent graduate of Millsaps College where she majored in Political Science, with minors in Sociology and American Studies. In 2021, she joined Y’all Politics as a Capitol Correspondent. Prior to making that move, she interned for a congressional office in Washington, D.C. and a multi-state government relations and public affairs firm in Jackson, Mississippi. While at Millsaps, Summerhays received a Legislative Fellowship with the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi where she worked with an active member of the Mississippi Legislature for the length of session. She has quickly established trust in the Capitol as a fair, honest, and hardworking young reporter. Her background in political science helps her cut through the noise to find and explain the truth. Email Anne: