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Beauty behind bars: Inmates at one of the biggest women's prisons in the US train as make-up artists and hair technicians while serving time (19 Pics)

Female prisoners in a US jail are finding hope for their futures, thanks to an inspiring cosmetology teacher who is training them to be professional beauticians. 

Elsa Lumsden runs a beauty therapy course at Central California Women's Facility (CCWF) in Chowchilla, California, which provides the inmates with the opportunity to gain cosmetology qualifications that could help them to find work upon their release.  

Elsa, who has been teaching for around 13 years, told Barcroft TV: 'I never looked at prisoners in a negative way, if they have support and the tutoring and mentoring they can be great people.'

Many of Elsa's students go on to full-time beauty work once they are released, with one former inmate contacting Elsa to say she established her own business after she walked free from CCWF.

Prisoners are not typically allowed to touch one another, but exceptions are made for the beauty treatments, and Elsa said she has never had a violent incident - though she remains vigilant around sharp tools like manicure scissors.


Inmates at a women's jail are finding hope for their futures through an inspiring cosmetology teacher who is training them to be beauticians (students pictured)

Many of Elsa's students go on to full-time beauty work once they are released, with one former inmate contacting Elsa to say she now owns her own business

Elsa Lumsden runs a beauty therapy course at Central California Women's Facility (CCWF) in Chowchilla, California (doll's heads used for practice pictured)


Despite prisoners not usually being allowed to touch each other, Elsa has never had a violent incident- though she remains vigilant around the sharp tools (students treating fellow inmates)


Many of the students practice on model heads as well as being allowed to practice on each other (an inmate seen after getting her hair styled)

She provides women at the prison a way to gain their qualification in cosmetology and find jobs on the outside (an inmate is pictured following her makeover)

'I never looked at prisoners in a negative way, if they have support and the tutoring and mentoring they can be great people' Elsa said (inmate Susan Ferguson pictured)


The prison houses houses almost 3,000 women serving sentences for everything from burglary to felony murder


Although inmates are not usually allowed to touch each other, Elsa's curriculum provides 1,600 hours of hands-on experience and teaching


Many of Elsa's students go on to full-time beauty work once they are released (three inmates seen)


Kalena Olsen, an inmate at the Central California Women's Facility handles poses during a beauty therapy lesson

Elsa has never had a violent incident in her classes – an achievement which speaks to the calming and constructive nature of her course (student seen)


One of Elsa's students, was a victim of an abusive relationship before turning to crime. She is now serving a life without parole sentence under the Felony Murder rule for being a lookout during a fatal shooting- and is finding solace in her qualification


The course leader's optimistic attitude to her students has had an obvious impact, with students referring to her teacher as 'an amazing woman.'


But Elsa ensures she never forgets she's working with potentially violent offenders- prisoners have to exercise caution around sharp tools

Besides making inmates feel special, and providing practical skills to those looking to better themselves, the cosmetology course is giving motivation to others whose futures remain uncertain

'I have never really felt special, so that's been a dream', inmate Susan Ferguson admitted of her treatment

Doll's heads are often used during the classes which work towards qualifications


The tools are kept carefully stored away and students are under strict supervision when using them on each other

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