Underwater Training Helping Inmates Land Jobs

Marine Technology Program Allowing California Prisoners Chance To Learn Skills, Obtain Job

Inmates at California prisons are doing their time hundreds of feet under water, and when some get out, they go on to make six-figure salaries.

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California tax dollars are paying for the Marine Technology program, which trains inmates in intricate underwater operations. The training costs Californians more than $300,000 a year.

"Lots of guys try getting in," inmate Michael Console said about the highly competitive program.

The inmates train on welding equipment and learn how to escape from sinking helicopters and ships.

Program creator Leonard Greenstone's first dives came under the waves of Pearl Harbor as he searched for survivors after the Japanese attack.

"Tears to think of the kind of gracious success the good Lord's allowed us to have," Greenstone said.

That success translates to six-figure incomes for those inmates who graduate from the program. Many end up working the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico off of Louisiana.

Employers from the marine industry realized inmates adapt easily to life at sea. One warden said it's because inmates are used to being confined.

The program also offers a big perk for California's prison system -- almost nobody who goes through the marine training ever comes back to prison.

10News learned fewer than three percent of inmates who go through the training re-offend. The rest of the prison population has a 55 percent recidivism rate, according to the California Department of Corrections.

The DOC estimates the Marine Technology Program saves taxpayers $3 million a year in housing costs.

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