Thursday, February 28, 2008

CDCR Establishes Public-Private Partnership Strategy to Help Deliver Needed Reentry Facilities in California

SACRAMENTO - The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has issued a Request For Information (RFI) to site both Male and Female Secure Community Reentry Facilities. The advertisements, released Friday, are further indication of CDCR progress in implementing requirements set forth by the Legislature in AB 900, the comprehensive prison reform package signed by Governor Schwarzenegger on May 3, 2007.

Both of these advertisements and the follow-up Request for Proposals (RFPs) will result in the ability for CDCR to partner with private developers and public agencies to deliver community facilities throughout the state aimed at improving rehabilitation outcomes for California's inmate population.

In response to the Female Reentry Center RFI CDCR has already received submissions from 12 developers for a total of 60 sites statewide, including 19 buildings proposed for renovation and 41 vacant lots that will require construction. The demographics for the female inmate population show that there are over 3,250 eligible participants, a number well in excess of the total potential number of beds proposed by the respondents. A RFP is being developed to establish the design and operational requirements for these facilities and will be issued by April, 2008 with awards proposed concurrent with the Governor's 2008/09 Budget, which establishes funding for these projects.

"We are aggressively seeking information from private and public entities, and weighing interest and readiness to site, design and construct Secure Community Reentry Facilities," said CDCR Chief Deputy Secretary of Facility Planning, Construction and Management, Deborah Hysen. "Planning and design of these facilities has been underway for months to ensure these facilities accomplish program objectives and to ensure the proposed designs are compatible with a typical urban landscape."

CDCR has selected Gensler Design, the world's largest design and planning firm, to work with CDCR and local governments that wish to locate these reentry facilities in their communities. Gensler has partnered with a number of real estate consulting firms through a joint venture to work closely with the Department, local government, private land owners, and developers to realize the benefits of private-public partnerships as an effective delivery method for major public works projects.

Each Secure Community Reentry Facility is estimated to require as little as three to five acres and as much as 12-15 acres to provide up to 500 beds. Responses are due back in April with a Request for Proposal to be issued shortly thereafter. These facilities are to be funded with AB 900 funds.

For additional information on Reentry, visit: http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Secure_Reentry_Facilities_RFI.html

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Inmate Divers Graduate To Deep Sea Construction Careers

Program leads to high wages and low recidivism

CHINO - The Prison Industry Authority today celebrated the graduation of 13 inmates from its Marine Technology Training Center in Chino, after they completed a grueling year long course preparing them for lucrative careers in the underwater construction industry.

"This is one of the most unique rehabilitation programs for inmates in the country," said Charles Pattillo, general manager of the Prison Industry Authority. "It gives inmates a real job skill that is in high demand around the world. More important, it gives inmates the confidence, life skills, and a very lucrative paycheck, all that help them succeed in their transition back to the community and increases the chances they will lead a constructive life and not come back to prison."

Graduating inmates were required to master a wide range of classes in general education, physics, diving medicine, blueprint reading and seamanship, all of which are taught in the deep water training facility built by inmates at the California Institution for Men. The inmates also are certified in vocational skills, such as underwater welding used in offshore construction in oil drilling and bridge building, and in other marine industries, such as operation and repair of diesel engines.

In addition to the vocational skills, the 1,800 hour course gives inmates the physical stamina needed to work in harsh and often unforgiving conditions in deep sea construction, where they weld by feel in complete darkness, in isolated work sites and under barometric pressure. Among the graduation requirements; divers must be strong enough to swim five miles, an indication of the survival skills needed to succeed in the industry.

All of the graduates are certified by the American Academy of Underwater Sciences, which governs all diving instruction in U.S. colleges and universities.

The PIA program trains about 100 inmates per year and there is a waiting list for inmates looking to get into the program, and for good reason. Graduates have the opportunity to earn six figure salaries in a demanding field, a rare opportunity for former inmates looking to change their lives. "All of the research shows that a job greatly reduces the chances of an inmate coming back to prison and we are very proud of the lower recidivism rates among graduates of all the PIA programs," said Pattillo.

Recent research shows that graduates of PIA programs have at least an 11 percent less chance of returning to prison than the general inmate population, saving taxpayers an estimated $23 million a year. Among graduates of the diving program in its earlier phase, the recidivism rate has been as low as six percent. .

The commercial diving program was initially established at CIM in 1970, under the guidance of Leonard Greenstone, a former U.S. Navy salvage diver and now retired diving contractor from Southern California.

After being operated by the California Department of Corrections, the program was shuttered due to budget constraints in 2003. In December, 2006, The Prison Industry Authority resurrected the facility, now named in honor of the 84 year old Greenstone, who spoke to today's graduates.

The Prison Industry Authority is a financially self-supporting state government agency that operates manufacturing and agricultural facilities within the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to provide rehabilitation opportunities for inmates.


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Friday, February 8, 2008

CDCR, AMERICORPS, ANNOUNCE INNOVATIVE REHABILITATION PROGRAM FOCUSED ON SUCCESSFUL DJJ PAROLEES

Today, CDCR Secretary James E. Tilton joined officials from the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ to kick off an innovative program intended to train juvenile offenders to help rebuild the communities from which they came.

Last year CDCR received an AmeriCorps grant for a program called “Restoring Youth and Communities” to enable 34 AmeriCorps members to work with young offenders in California who are either incarcerated or paroled, linking them with mentors and engaging them in meaningful service-learning projects. More than 90 candidates statewide competed for these positions.

DJJ participants will serve full time over an eleven month period as “service-learning coaches,” helping other DJJ youth identify and learn about issues such as drug abuse, youth violence, and education. These coaches will mentor youth working with service projects in DJJ facilities and their communities. These coaches will recruit and connect DJJ youth with adult volunteers and community based organizations and opportunities. AmeriCorps members receive a living allowance; health and child care benefits, and receive an educational award upon completion of training.

“These people have changed their lives and want to give guidance and education to youth currently serving in the correctional system,” Tilton said. “We honored them today for their commitment to public service and focus on the communities they came from. These kinds of community-based partnerships are exactly what the CDCR has been striving to move toward as we focus on rehabilitative services inside institutions and outside for adults and juveniles on parole.”

Bernard Warner, Chief Deputy Secretary of the Division of Juvenile Justice said the process was very competitive and that many successful parolees shared compelling stories of personal growth and change when interviewed.

“The applicants to this program were asked to think seriously about the role they would play in service activities, academic experiences and their own personal talents while participating in the program,” Warner said. “Each and every participant brings a natural strength and sense of conviction and purpose to their role. It truly exceeded all our expectations.”
The DJJ finished an intensive five-day training this week for the first group of AmeriCorps members.

Many of this group are former parolees who discharged from DJJ and are presently working in their home communities to better conditions. Other participants include juveniles and young adults who have been at risk, as well as a select few individuals who are studying juvenile criminal justice at various state universities and colleges. The common thread is that these individuals are interested in exploring careers in juvenile justice while helping DJJ youth in facilities and on parole make positive changes and create pathways for change in the communities they will return to.

“Contrary to what one would be led to believe, there are a lot of young people in DJJ and on parole who do care about problems tearing their communities apart, said Chuck Supple, executive director of the Juvenile Parole Board. “Given the opportunity, it is my belief many are willing to step up. They represent a tremendous resource in common challenges such as how to address youth violence, child abuse, drug abuse, and other ills plaguing their communities. The idea was to try to get them involved, and turn the negative experience into a positive by doing prevention work.”

Last year, when the Corporation for National and Community Service (Corporation) announced the approval of grants, the national organization noted that programs such as the DJJ/AmeriCorps partnership is exactly the kind of skill-building programs they hope to support.

"The programs are tackling some of the most pressing problems in communities across the United States," said David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation, which sponsors AmeriCorps. "We are investing in organizations that have proved their ability to improve lives, and we are also supporting creative programs with strong models that will use AmeriCorps members to bring lasting change."

Background

AmeriCorps sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service and administered by CaliforniaVolunteers, approved a $532,965 annual grant (maximum three years.) This enables 34 AmeriCorps members to work with young offenders in California who are either incarcerated or paroled, linking them with mentors and engaging them in meaningful service-learning projects. CDCR has matched that amount by $695,500 per year. Each year 34 new participants will be chosen. Year to year funding is predicated on performance measures.


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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Heman G. Stark Youth Correctional Facility Conducts First Prison Pup Program Graduation

CHINO -- The Prison Pup Dog Shelter Program at the Heman G. Stark Youth Correctional Facility (YCF) in Chino celebrated its first graduation today in a special ceremony involving the pups and the juvenile handlers. The innovative program focuses on instilling positive care-giving techniques to the youth involved and gives back to the community. The next step will be providing adoption of the pups to the public.

The first four dogs in the program at the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) facility in Chino have completed 12 weeks of training with the juveniles and are ready to be adopted. The dogs in the program are rehabilitated from past neglect and abuse and then retrained for basic obedience and proper socialization for re-adoption into the community. Now that these dogs are fully trained in obedience, the first cycle of the program has come to a conclusion.
“This is a worthy cause enabling our youth to give back to the community and teaches them about caring and responsibility,” said Bernard Warner, Chief Deputy Secretary for the Division of Juvenile Justice. “We are proud to be part of this program and are hopeful that the dogs in our care can be given to appropriate citizens in need, to ease them in life’s challenges.”
"The Prison Pup Program at Heman G. Stark is positive for our young men. It teaches them how to provide care while training the dogs”, said the facility’s Superintendent, Ramon Martinez. “Our young men learn patience, discipline and this program offers them skills for everyday life and the future. The Restorative Justice Model is exemplified by this program."
The program began on Sept. 25, with 13 juvenile canine participants. The youth initially went through intensive canine-handling theory training for five straight weeks. The dogs, from the Orange County Humane Society were selected and started socializing with the trainers from Canine Support Team at about the same time. The dogs and handlers were matched up by the end of October.
Today’s graduation ceremony featured a dog handlers’ demonstration by the program participants, slide show presentations, and testimonials of the people involved in the program.

According to Superintendent Martinez, “It is apparent the youth have learned and achieved significant values from participating in this program. The young men have described the experience as developing talents in compassion, dog training, patience, responsibility, parenting and most of all unconditional love,” Martinez said.
The dogs were anticipated to graduate at the conclusion of six months, but the great dedication and care provided these animals by their juvenile handlers has them ready at three months. “This quicker than anticipated life cycle will allow for more rescued animals to cycle through the program,” said Heman G. Stark YCF Treatment Team Supervisor, Michelle Lee, who supervises the program. Lee said the institution expects to add more handlers and dogs during the next cycle by the middle of March 2008.

The program received much community and media recognition for being the first program of its type in a Juvenile Justice setting.

The Orange County Humane Society is scheduled to hold its adoption fair on Mar. 1, when these four dogs will be presented to the public for their first opportunity at adoption.