The visit to Deuel Vocational Institution, 23500 Kasson Road, was to help students learn more about different law enforcement occupations as part of teacher Annette Feldman’s Law & Order and Public Policy program.
“I wanted them to get an appreciation for the daily jobs of various different careers,” Feldman said. “DVI is the second largest employer in Tracy and most don’t know about it.”
DVI spokesman Lt. Arnel Bona was the tour guide for Feldman and her 17 students.
Bona’s tour showcased the diversity of the prison occupations, which includes non-correctional positions such as counselors, medical staff, cooks and secretaries.
“They see what officers have to do,” he said. “It’s a fantastic idea if they’re interested in law enforcement. It’s a rewarding career.”
As students made their way through different parts of the prison, Bona told them about some of the prison procedures, such as inmates being required to walk inside designated areas in the hallways and assigned seating in the dining halls.
Included in the tour was a visit to the reception area for incoming prisoners, an exercise yard and two dining halls.
One of the highlights of the tour was a peek into two cell blocks.
Armando Rango, 17, said after going inside a prisoner cell that it was not what he expected and called them “small” and “dirty.”
Ivette Argueta, 19, said she was in shock at the size of the cell and felt sorry for the prisoners.
As the students watched officers and prisoners pass them in the prison hallways, some reflected on the sights and sounds of the institution.
“I think it’s really hard to work here,” said 18-year-old Sequoia Vega. “You have a big responsibility. I was thinking about being a police officer, but I don’t want to work in a prison.”
The DVI tour has been part of Feldman’s student fieldtrips for the last four years, she said. Each year she takes her students to different law enforcement offices to learn about what is available to them in the workforce.
Included in Feldman’s annual trips have been visits to the San Joaquin County Jail, Tracy Police Department and the California Highway Patrol Academy.
“In high school they learn everything in books and on TV,” she said. “These are real adults with real families and real careers. I wanted them to see their working environment.”
Comparing DVI to their visit to the county jail, 18-year-old Daniele Schmig said it was good for her and her classmates to see the difference.
“It’s more serious (at DVI) than I thought it was going to be,” she said. “I’m not mean enough to work here. If they attacked I’d probably hide. I’m going into the Air Force to be an air traffic controller.”
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or email@example.com.