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Five Incarcerated Women Graduate from Groundbreaking Virtual Reality Auto Mechanics Training Program at MD Correctional Institution for Women.

November 6, 2023

Contact: mark.vernarelli@maryland.gov , latoya.gray@maryland.gov

[JESSUP, MARYLAND] - In a historic achievement, five incarcerated women have become the first graduates of the Vehicles For Change Virtual Reality Auto Mechanics Training program at the MD Correctional Institution for Women (MCIW) in Jessup, Maryland. This innovative program has equipped these remarkable women with the skills needed to perform brake, tire, and oil change jobs, opening up opportunities for them in the car care industry, which boasts an estimated 300,000 job openings nationwide.

Vehicles For Change (VFC) Founder Martin Schwartz expressed his pride and admiration for these trailblazing graduates, stating, "You are the first in the entire country to do a virtual reality training." VFC, a nonprofit organization, has been a valuable partner with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) for over eight years.

DPSCS Secretary Carolyn J. Scruggs affirmed the organization's new mission, saying, "We're responsible for making you better than you were when you walked in the door." This commitment to rehabilitation and reentry is evident in the transformative training provided to these women.

A special ceremony was held at the MD Correctional Institution for Women on November 6 to celebrate the graduates' remarkable achievements. During the ceremony, the women received certificates for successfully completing the intensive six-week training program, marking a significant step in their journey toward reintegration into society.

Assistant Warden Tikaya Parker declared, "Reentry starts here," emphasizing the importance of equipping incarcerated individuals with valuable skills and opportunities for a fresh start.

Danielle Cox, Director of Education at DPSCS, expressed the organization's dedication to expanding such programs in correctional facilities. She stated, "We're serious about bringing more programs to this facility," underlining the commitment to providing inmates with opportunities for personal growth and skill development.

The graduates shared their profound gratitude and the positive impact of the VFC program. One of the graduates, known as "CB," revealed, "The virtual reality training has been an amazing experience. Knowing I had six weeks of training made me focused and determined to improve." This program has proven life-changing for these women, empowering them with new skills and a renewed sense of purpose.

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services extends its heartfelt thanks to Vehicles For Change for its unwavering commitment to reentry and the betterment of returning citizens. This pioneering program serves as a beacon of hope and opportunity for incarcerated individuals and exemplifies the potential for change and rehabilitation within the correctional system.

For more information about the Vehicles For Change Virtual Reality Auto Mechanics Training program, please visit www.vehiclesforchange.org.

For media inquiries, please contact: mark.vernarelli@maryland.gov , latoya.gray@maryland.gov