Synopsis by Sandra Brennan
This documentary chronicles the travails of six Southern California state prison inmates as they endure grueling vocational training to become deep-sea salvage experts. The unique 10-month program has been effect in the Chino Institution for Men since 1970. These inmates originally were part of 65 fellow students; by the course's end, only 11 inmates can make the final cut. Two of the six, have successfully completed the training and function as teacher's aides. The course is more rigorous than Army boot-camp. In addition to brutal calisthenics, the trainees must endure 30-minutes in a water tank wearing a blacked out helmet. But the program is more than physical training; the students must also become intimate with underwater physics, medicine, and the maintenance of complex equipment followed by an all-day final exam. What is most fascinating is that many of those who succeeded, entered the program with almost no literacy skills--some of them were even unable to swim. Upon their release from prison, these divers have a much-needed skill and can easily find high-paying jobs. Typically, they find work repairing oil rigs. They also come out with a renewed sense of self-worth. Only 5% of the Chino graduates are reincarcerated.