HVAC Program at Otero I Gains Attention from International Organization
Over a facility phone’s loudspeaker, Mr. Salgado was asked a question:
“What interested you about this program?”
He answered: “Well, it was a great opportunity for me, being that I’m incarcerated.”
IAPMO magazine recently interviewed graduates, as well as instructors, of the HVAC program at the Otero County Prison Facility in Chaparral, NM.
Jector Montes is a senior instructor at the facility.
“It’s an 18-month program,” he explained, “and it’s geared for ten inmates. Now, to get into the program, they have to meet certain requirements.”
IAPMO stands for the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials. It’s an organization established almost 100 years ago to set standards of codes and to be the official voice and representative of the industry. Intrigued by the unique HVAC at Otero County, the organization wanted to find out more about it and report what they learned to their members.
When resident graduate Mr. Stevens was asked what he thought of the program, he replied:
“Overall, I think it was a really good experience. I had a really good instructor [Fernando Gonzalez] who really tried to be patient with a lot of us, because a lot of us didn’t really know what we were doing.”
Mr. Salgado told the interviewer:
“Without this program, it would’ve been a real struggle to get a good-paying job. Because MTC and the education department here, and Mr. Gonzalez, for him saying ‘yes’ to wanting to teach us, it just opened so many doors.”
The HVAC program was made possible through a partnership with the nearby Dona Ana Community College, which certified the new technicians.
“Is there anything else you’d like to add?” The interviewer asked Mr. Stevens.
“The one thing I would like to add,” he answered, “is I’m thankful for the facility to open up the opportunity to offer this kind of program. I’d also like to thank the people for sticking it out, and I’d like to thank my instructor, especially, because he was really patient with me and a lot of the people in there, and he was really informative. And it really did change my life. I am blessed to have that.”
About Otero County Prison Facility
Otero County Prison Facility is accredited by the American Correctional Association—
achieving 100% compliance for both mandatory and non-mandatory standards in
its most recent audit. Other accreditations and certifications include the Correctional
Education Association and the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).