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Program at Snohomish County Jail trains inmates for jobs in the culinary field

The program aims to give inmates skills they can use to work in the restaurant industry in the hopes of keeping them out of the prison system in the future.

EVERETT, Wash. — A new program at the Snohomish County Jail is aiming to prevent inmates from returning once they're released by teaching them skills in the kitchen. 

There are a lot of lessons to be learned in jail. For Saul Ray Cobian Osorio those lessons are quite personal.

"I'm learning to be more positive, be more patient. I'm really just focusing on being a better person," he said.

Cobian Osorio has been in and out of jail for much of his life. Right now he's serving a nine-month sentence for violating a protection order. He's due out on Aug. 22.

When he leaves this time he'll bring with him something he's never had before -- a belief in himself.

"I'm seeing the value in myself," he said. "People like me here, so that motivates me to keep pushing, to keep on going."

Cobian Osorio is part of a new culinary program at the Snohomish County jail. It's a 10-week course sponsored by the jail's food service company, Aramark.

It doesn't cost the county anything.

Cobian Osorio is learning his way around a kitchen -- how to cook, clean and store food safely.

When he graduates from the program he'll have a food handlers permit and kitchen safety certificate - two important steps toward working in a restaurant.

"We believe the path to redemption doesn't have to start when they get released. It can start in here," said Jail Chief Jamie Kane.

Kane believes the program provides more than just a course in culinary competency.

"It gives a sense of pride, a sense of belonging, a sense of being part of something. It helps them in going down that road of self-worth that a lot of inmates lose when they become incarcerated."

Cobian Osorio believes the program will help him stay out of jail for good, and begin providing for his 11-year-old daughter.

When released he plans to work at his family's Seattle restaurant, and maybe open his own one day.

For now, he keeps learning those lessons - hoping they will feed a healthier future.

"Hopefully this will be the last time I'm in here. That's what I'm aiming for," he said. "Right now, I'm just really just focused on a better way, a better road."


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