For prisoners finally being released from California prisons, The California Reentry Program is available to assist prisoners facing the outside world and parole. Facing and adhering to parole can be a daunting task for someone who has been incarcerated for any period of times. Job skills training, social skills beyond prison walls, housing, clothing – these are all situations that newly released prisoners must face.
The California Reentry Program began in 2003 when a prisoner being released from San Quentin approached a prison education instructor, asking about financial college aid, college admissions, and various other topics that would help the prisoner successfully renter society and continue his education. It became clear at that time that there were very limited resources for ex-offenders to learn about resources and local opportunities upon release.
With careful planning and proper implementation of a comprehensive release plan prior to parole, these gaps are eliminated and the rehabilitation process, which ideally began in prison, can continue uninterrupted throughout parole and beyond.
Some of the services that the The California Reentry Program provide are:
Drop-In Assistance – for prisoners who need questions answered by volunteers on-site or with access to resources and information on-site. Materials are provided for county resource guides, college financial aid applications, catalogues for community colleges, DMV information, GED information and other topics related to the world outside of prison.
Long-Term Case Management – These services are available for prisoners who need multiple meetings with a volunteer to help them with long term planning such as medical needs, substance abuse treatment, employment, housing and education.
Parole Clothing – When prisoners are release in the California prison system, they receive $200 gate money (as of 2012) and the prison system asks for $38 of that gate money to provide the prisoners gray sweat suits to wear out of prison. The California Reentry Program is partnering with community organizations to collect and distribute clothing to prisoners so that they can wear regular clothing when they leave.
Workshops – The The California Reentry Program provides expert speakers several times per month to talk about topics of interest to prisoners. Topics can include resume building, health issues, drug treatment, financial management, and other relevant topics for prisoners facing reentry.
The program is run on a donation/volunteer based system and The California Reentry Program is actively seeking qualified volunteers to assist Reentry Advisors. This is a wonderful opportunity for anyone who aspires to work as educators, social workers, counselors and law students.
With California budgets being deeply slashed, prison populations over burdened and resources being limited due to budget cuts, more and more prisoners are facing difficult and challenging times upon prison release. The California Reentry Program provides much needed resource and support systems for reentry populations – and the more information and support these paroleess receive, the more recidivism rates will be reduced.