Nine Otero County jail inmates earn HVAC certifications in new program


Inmates at the Otero County Prison Facility participate in an educational program to obtain HVAC certifications. Picture taken in October 2019. / Courtesy of the Otero County Prison

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Nine Otero County jail inmates have HVAC certifications thanks to a new program started at the state-run facility.

A ceremony was conducted for the inmates over a video conference on Zoom congratulating them on their accomplishment and for preparing for a life outside of jail. The number of participants and the ceremony was limited due to COVID-19 concerns.

The jail partnered with Doña Ana County Community College to expand educational services to inmates as they serve time and try to reform their lives.

“We understand and appreciate the amount of money, time and effort went into starting this program and continue it here,” said an inmate identified as Tice. “Thanks to all of you, our chances of succeeding on release have skyrocketed.”

Last names of inmates and first names of instructors are withheld out of security reasons, according to a spokeswoman at the jail.

State representative Willie Madrid applauded the inmates for their work and for continuing their education.

“I smile even bigger because you are in the midst of the most important time with this pandemic,” he said. “There will be lots of jobs and opportunities. I encourage you as well, don’t stop here. Continue your education.”

A spokeswoman at the jail said the inmates are provided with various opportunities to join programs and are paid. The inmates who earned their HVAC certifications were paid modestly after volunteering for the program.

Courses were adjusted to meet COVID-19 regulations and standards to protect staff and the inmates. Before the pandemic began, inmates were given opportunities to work with the tools they’d be using in their career fields.

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