SACRAMENTO – Several hundred state parolees and county probationers found help on Friday in getting a fresh start at living a productive crime-free life. They attended a Resource Fair at Mather that was co-presented by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).
“I want my friends who are still behind the wall to know that if they want to change, there really is the kind of help they need to start a new life.” said parolee Kevin Benjamin.
Benjamin says he’s been in and out of correctional institutions for the majority of the last 20 years. But today he was on the recruiting side of the table talking to former parolees and probationers like him at the Highlands Community Charter Schools. Benjamin, who is in his late 40s, admits that he wasted many years of his life focused simply on finding another drug fix and trying to stay out of the correctional system. But he beamed today when he announced that he was just elected high school Class President yesterday.
“Some people may not understand how important that is to me – at my age - but it says that I have value. It says that I am capable of positive things!”
Benjamin’s Transition Specialist, Lee Farrand agrees. “People deserve a second chance. When they realize that they can earn their GED, when they become employable and find jobs, they support their families and contribute to society. That’s what this is about,” Farrand emphasizes.
Bringing together service providers like Farrand with former offenders like Benjamin to take advantage of the resources offered at the fair is rewarding for CDCR Deputy Parole Administrator Marvin Speed. “Our agents have been working diligently to get the word out about this fair to all of the parolees in our region because we know that their attendance here can really make a difference. When parolees make the effort to come out and sign up for job training or treatment, their road to becoming a productive member of society becomes much easier.
There is someone here to help almost all of these parolees stay away from the circumstances that contribute to criminality.”
Participating employers included Northern California Construction Training, Richer and Associates, Teamsters Local 150, Cement Masons Local 400, Operating Engineers Local 3 and LB Construction.
Recent laws make parolees eligible for federal Medicare programs. The Medicare expansion was promoted as a way to reduce the high cost to taxpayers of inmates’ treatment by providing access to preventative care for at-risk populations. As a result, one of the busiest agencies at the fair was Covered California.
Other agencies and providers offering crucial services included the WestCare Foundation, Substance Abuse Services Coordinating Agency (SASCA), the Highlands Community Charter School, Ink Off Me, Planned Parenthood, Narcotics Anonymous, Oak House, House of Integrity, Milgard, the Center for Fathers and Families, the Safety Center, Health Care Options, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and Health and Fitness Magazine.
The fair was presented by CDCR’s Division of Adult Parole Operations and Division of Rehabilitative Programs in cooperation with the Sacramento Community Based Coalition, and Sacramento County Probation.
As an incentive to attend, the fair was held outdoors where participants could watch portions of the practice run of the 2014 California Capital Air Show overhead, (at no taxpayer cost). Grilled burgers and chips were also provided to the participants and service providers.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SEPTEMBER 5, 2014
CONTACT: LUIS PATINO
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