Inmates at the Florida Department of Corrections have an opportunity to train and be certified as a wastewater treatment operators while in prison. It is an encouraging path as many prisoners are rarely given the chance to work after serving their sentences due to their record. Sixty people regularly attend the operator courses, which are taught by their certified peers at the Everglades Correctional Institution. Inmates from various backgrounds, gangs, and races come together to study California State University textbooks, mulling over microbiology diagrams and algebra equations. Many have been hired in Florida and California as state certified operators, with seven men having passed the state exam and certifying as operators in 2020. “In the past it was hard to get a good job with a criminal record,” said Sean Smart, a 45-year-old serving a ten-year sentence. “Now that I’ve completed this course and attended the wastewater class, I feel confident about having a future career when I go home next year.”

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