The transition from life behind bars to becoming a successful, contributing member of the community is difficult. The Sacramento Community Based Coalition (SCBC) recognized 324 men and women who have achieved success during the transition period.
The LINKS Achievement Awards, held January 21 at the Holiday Inn Capital Plaza in Sacramento, shined the spotlight on those Sacramento County parolees who are committed to making successful reentry into their communities and to improving their lives, as well as the lives of their families.
The SCBC is a collaborative effort between the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) specifically designed for men and women reentering the community from state prison. Program participants are eligible to receive educational services that include literacy skills, GED and high school diplomas, math skills, vocational training referrals, substance abuse education, introductory computer literacy training, and job readiness training. Participants include men and women on parole in Sacramento County who have been referred by their parole agent.
County Superintendent of Schools David W. Gordon, County Board of Education Trustee Greg Geeting, and CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate assisted SCBC staff in presenting awards to participants, 16 of whom earned a GED through the program.
"Elsewhere, only five to ten percent of those leaving incarceration will find work," said SCBC Administrator Dr. Bill Lane. "Thanks to the collaborative approach of SCBC, 82 percent of our program graduates find employment." He noted that SCBC benefits not just those formerly incarcerated, but their families as well. "We want to break the cycle of prison-going. Tonight is a success story for wives, husbands and parents, and the legacy they leave their families—who represent more than 850 local children. Theirs is a success story for the entire community." The SCBC program applies the successful LINKS model, which is a groundbreaking SCOE career technical education model aimed at helping high-risk students succeed. Services are tailored to individual students based on their specific needs instead of through traditional, scripted education. Over 1,600 parolees have been enrolled in the SCBC since the program's start in 2007—the equivalent of 35 percent of Sacramento County's entire parolee population. SCBC participants' recidivism rate is less than 40 percent, with only 8.5 percent returning to prison for a new court commitment. Comparably, the statewide recidivism rate is estimated at more than 70 percent, with 50-60 percent of parolees returned to prison for new court commitment.
"You are at the crossroads of your life like I was," said one program graduate to SCBC participants. "It's really easy to go to prison, but hard to get out. If you had the strength to do what it takes to get out of prison, then you have what it takes to succeed and stay out and make something of yourself. With SCBC, this is your golden opportunity. You won't get this opportunity anywhere else."
Collaborative partners include the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; ManAlive; Bridges; House of Integrity, Hope, Help & Healing; Caltrans; Northern California Construction Training; Safety Center; Center for Fathers and Families; Sober Talk; and Fresh Producers. For more information about the Sacramento Community Based Coalition contact Administrator Bill Lane, Ph.D., at (916) 264-0241.