VC partners with Gonzales Intermediate Sanction Facility to offer innovative training


Victoria College has partnered with the Gonzales Intermediate Sanction Facility (ISF) to offer incarcerated individuals an opportunity to receive training in electrical, HVAC and welding, preparing them to reenter the community with valuable job skills they were unable to obtain prior to incarceration.

“Research has shown that individuals afforded the opportunity to obtain a job with a living wage is one of the most significant factors towards success and avoiding future incarceration,” said Bridgette Barfield, director of the Gonzales ISF. “This initiative marks the first time a community corrections facility in Texas will provide extensive, skill-based training as part of its rehabilitation program. We anticipate several Texas jurisdictions will order individuals to attend the ISF specifically due to these training opportunities.”

The first class of 18 students recently began their studies at the Workforce Training Building at VC’s Gonzales Center. After completing the training, participants will continue to work on employability skills or other ISF programming, or transition into the ISF work program until they are discharged.

“Our goal is for every eligible resident in our facility to have the opportunity to complete one of the three training courses before they are released,” said Barfield.

VC has partnered with the Gonzales ISF for many years, initially focusing on preparing ISF residents to earn a GED. The partnership later expanded to also include Core Curriculum: Introductory Craft Skills, a course covering basic safety, construction math, hand and power tools, and communications skills.

The new training in electrical, HVAC and welding is open to all Gonzales ISF residents who meet good behavior requirements and successfully complete the Core Curriculum class. Residents are able to choose their field of study as long as it aligns with their release date. 

Upon successful completion, participants will receive NCCER certifications. These industry-standard credentials are recognized by employers in the construction trades and hold significant value in the job market.

“Victoria College is excited about this opportunity to partner with the Gonzales Intermediate Sanction Facility to improve the lives of incarcerated individuals by equipping them with the skills and certifications they need to secure employment after release,” said VC President Dr. Jennifer Kent. “When we train the incarcerated to reenter society with marketable skills, they have more than a means to earn a living – they have hope, and that makes all the difference.”

Funding for the training is provided through the Adult Education & Literacy grant awarded to Victoria College. 

“The overwhelming enthusiasm from the residents has been truly encouraging,” said Barfield. “We’ve even seen some individuals voluntarily extend their stay to complete their training. As one resident stated with pride to a detention officer, ‘I dropped out of high school years ago, but look at me now: I’m taking college classes!’”