A Man at Taft Inspires Other Incarcerated Men through Education

For Victor Manuel Alcala Navarro, helping his fellow inmates succeed is his mission.

“I do it because I feel like I’m giving back to the community, a community that I once failed. And right now this is the only way in which I can give back to society.”

Victor has been incarcerated for 19 years; 16 of those years at the Taft Correctional Institution in Taft, California.

Over those years, he’s learned that knowledge is the key to a new start in life.

“Without education, you don’t have opportunities.”

Warden Craig Apker and his staff provide numerous classes and programs to help inmates change their lives. Victor teaches two of them.

“I believe this has a great impact on the people here who have never had this type of education.”

Victor teaches the hydroponics and personal finance courses.

“We’ve had a lot of success because my students begin to have a new perspective on life.”

And he says helping others has multiple benefits.

“I also learn at the same time. When I speak with the students, I learn a lot. Teaching is also learning.”

Victor says the staff have been tremendous to work with because they have the same mission as he does: to help inmates become better people.

“We have good communication with the staff here. We propose projects to the staff and anything they’re able to do for us, they do. The mission of the company is to help people so that they can be better in the future. Obviously, I see that as a very positive thing.”

He says his time at Taft has taught him many things including patience, leadership, and determination. In the end, Victor says these programs can help offenders prepare to be successful when they’re released.

“It gives us all tools so that when we’re on the outside, we can survive.”

About Taft Correctional Institution

Taft Correctional Institution is accredited by the American Correctional Association—
achieving over 99% compliance for both mandatory and non-mandatory standards in
its most recent audit. Other accreditations and certifications include the Correctional
Education Association, The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare
Organizations, and the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).