Success Stories

These success stories are drawn from individuals who have participated in our Correctional Industries programs during and beyond their incarceration. They demonstrate CI's training and workforce development initiatives within the prisons and in the community, while also highlighting each individual's initiative to proactively pursue employment post-release when they return to society.


Robinson’s future endeavors began in 2016 when he released from the Washington State Penitentiary. Prior to release, he worked for two (2) years in the Correctional Industries (CI) agriculture program. In addition to learning farming, he gain skills in irrigation, wire feed welding, and heavy equipment operation.  “I decided to come to work for CI because I knew that CI offered the opportunity to gain life skills and would support my future endeavors if I stayed on the right path.”

While working in the agriculture program, Robinson was supervised by Richard Thompson. When asked about his experience working with Richard, Robinson stated, “Working with Richard Thompson was always a pleasure. He was willing to help me in any endeavor as long as I showed initiative and responsible behavior. Richard gave me additional responsibilities and leadership roles as I proved my commitment to the job and consistently showed growth and dependability with my duties.”

To prepare for release, Robinson worked with CI Workforce Development Specialist Calvin Thorp and Employment Specialist Wendy Martindale. “Wendy and Calvin were extremely supportive and gave me the resources I needed to connect with job opportunities once I released”, stated Robinson. He participated in soft skills training with Calvin and made post-release employment plans via Skype conference calls with Wendy. It was while working with Wendy that Robinson learned about the WorkSource job fair that would lead to his future employment as a Maintenance and Grounds Technician.

Robinson’s temporary county position lead to his career pathway. He is currently an Operator-In-Training (OIT) for a county division for wastewater treatment. Robinson credits CI’s specialists for helping him find his career pathway.


Buffy’s life changed the moment she realized her own self-worth. “I was tired of doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, and I was given the opportunity to take TRAC. TRAC changed everything for me.”

When Buffy enrolled in CI's Trades Related Apprenticeship Coaching Program (TRAC), she wasn’t sure if she would be able to physically perform the training requirements. Steve Petermann, CI TRAC Instructor, helped Buffy by challenging her. She graduated from TRAC with the skills required for laborers, carpenters, and iron workers. She took those skills and worked with Deanna Rodkey, CI Community Employment Specialist, together they secured a job just three (3) days after Buffy reentered her community.

While Buffy’s first position at a local cabinet shop was entry level and had her filling glue bottles, she quickly proved herself and promoted to casework supervisor. Buffy continues to push herself to achieve bigger and better things and will soon be moving into the engineering department.

Life after release isn’t easy. Buffy and her kids are adjusting to their new normal; things like homework, good grades, chores, and full-time employment. Buffy has this to say about the challenges she faced after release, “I get a lot of ‘you weren’t there to raise us, papa raised us for 10 years’. And I say, yes he did, but I’m here now. And I’m present now.”


Rachel was in and out of jail and battling addiction for many years. Her addiction to narcotics made her life unmanageable and eventually she was convicted and sentenced to prison at Washington Corrections Center for Women. With approximately one year left on her sentence, Rachel decided to interview for a spot in Correctional Industries’ (CI) Trades Related Apprenticeship Coaching Program (TRAC).

Rachel successfully completed the 16-week training and was interested in pursuing a union apprenticeship, so she stayed with TRAC in a clerk position. She continued working in TRAC for six (6) months, right up until the day she was released from prison.  “I learned how to be accountable. Before being a part of TRAC and CI, I had never finished anything. Working for CI gave me a purpose and taught me how to show up.”

Regardless of available support system, releasing from prison can be scary. Rachel worked with CI Workforce Development Specialist, Kathryn Shea, to prepare for her release. They developed resumes and Kathryn provided an employment recommendation letter. After release, Rachel worked with CI Employment Specialist, Wendy Martindale. Rachel considered joining a local union or going back to school full-time. Within days of Rachel’s decision to go back to school to study criminal justice and public policy, Wendy provided her with a job lead at a local non-profit organization helping formerly incarcerated transition into employment.

Rachel is now a full-time student and landed the job with the non-profit organization. She is working in a field directly related to where she sees her education and future career path taking her. When asked what she is looking forward to most in her future, Rachel states, “My life is so different. What am I not looking forward to? I never would have thought this could be my life.”


During his 10 years in prison, Daniel worked in CI programs at the Washington State Penitentiary and Coyote Ridge Corrections Center. In 2012, he was transferred to Cedar Creek Corrections Center and soon after came to work for Correctional Industries’ (CI) Service and Delivery Division in Tumwater.  “I knew that in order to be successful in the community and maintain a job that I needed to develop some basic work skills and Correctional Industries was the closest real-world job atmosphere for me while incarcerated. It was also the best paying job in the prison system and I knew it would allow me to save a little bit of money and pay off legal financial obligations.”

When asked about his experience working with CI supervisors, Daniel stated, “I would not be where I am today without the supervisors that I had at the Tumwater facility. They did not treat or look at me as if I were less of a person for being a prisoner. Instead they chose to treat me with the same respect that they would give to any other employee. They taught me the importance of responsibility, accountability, and ethics. Most importantly they made me feel appreciated and valued which reminded me that my life still had meaning.”

Upon release Daniel had money saved and was able to provide for his basic needs, open a bank account, and provide for his son. With his legal financial obligations paid, he was able to focus on his future. Daniel is now pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Business Studies and Sports Management. He is a bankruptcy paralegal and part-owner of a contractual paralegal firm. He is applying to law school and plans to pursue his Juris Doctorate.

When asked how work training with CI prepared him for post-release employment, Daniel stated, “CI helped prepare me for post-release employment in several different ways. Working with CI taught me the crucial communication and problem-solving skills as well as stress management skills that I would need in the workforce. CI also helped me build a professional resume, provided job seeking and mock interview tips.”


In May 2012, Stephanie entered prison to serve a five year sentence. Things were a little bit rough in the beginning, and she struggled with the rules inside the institution. After a couple of years at Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW), Stephanie decided that she would have to make some changes if she was going to be successful when she released.

In early 2017, Stephanie enrolled in the TRAC (Trade Related Apprenticeship Coaching) program under the strict instruction of Steve Petermann and excelled in the program - graduating at the top of her class. After graduation, she became a TRAC assistant and continued to work for Mr. Petermann until her release in August 2017. Stephanie appreciated Steve because he would ask both the students and clerks for input, and "he took the time to help each one of us individually." Additionally, CI’s Workforce Development staff helped her prepare to enter the workforce armed with a resume and skill set that translated to employment opportunities. One of the requirements of TRAC is participation in the soft skills class, Makin’ It Work. "It helped me open my mind and prepare for different real life scenarios in both the workplace and my personal life," said Stephanie.

Although Stephanie did not join one of the four TRAC partner unions, she is a Teamster and works for a company in Vancouver, WA. She really enjoys her job and is not afraid to take on and learn new tasks. She is training to be the first woman to ever run a press at the plant. "All of the skills I learned in TRAC and working for Correctional Industries apply in my everyday life and employment. Steve really helped prepare me for my release," said Stephanie.

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