Nine Lorton Reformatory residents graduated Friday from the first apprenticeship program ever to be completed at the prison.
The nine graduates went through program that included meal preparation, menu planning, setting up dining areas and serving beverages.
The graduates will be classified as hotel and restaurant cooks, getting full benefits as journeymen cooks, and will be elibible to be placed in jobs in the Washington area on release from prison.
The program was designed in 1977 by the AFL-CIO, D.C. Department of Corrections and Labor, the D.C. Central Labor Council and representatives of District businesses including the food service industry. Job placement for the graduates will handled by the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union, Local 25, and restaurant and club management representatives.
Training was conducted by Isaiah Johnson, whom a coworker described as "part drill sergeant, part father, part mother, part a lot of things." Johnson, who is called 'dad' or 'father' by the inmates, has more than 36 years' experience as a teacher and administrator in the food service industry. On-the-job training was provided by Eugene Cox, chief of the food service at the Lorton Central Facility.
The graduates are: Robert Berryman, Reginald Brown, Eddie Gardner, Earl Jenkins, Albert McCoy, Marvin Thorne, Melvin Trent, Reginald Young Bey, and Aubrey Pierson El, who has been working for the past two months at the Capitol Hill Club as part of a work release program. Due to illness, class member Johnnie Ruffin was not able to graduate, but is expected to complete the course and graduate soon.
The next culinary training program begins in May. Lorton also offers vocational training in auto body repair, auto mechanics, brick laying and barbering, and educational programs ranging from remedial reading and GED exam preparation through college level courses.