For many men and women on parole, the transition from prison life to life beyond prison is a challenging one. Many of them struggle to find success, and those who do find success deserve special recognition.
On February 1, the Sacramento Community Based Coalition (SCBC) All-Star Event honored nearly 350 Sacramento County parolees and their families who are committed to making a successful reentry into their communities, and improving their lives, as well as the lives of their families.
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.
During the All-Star Event, eight SCBC clients were recognized for earning their GEDs. SCBC alum Marcus Gonzales congratulated the honorees and told them they have taken a big step toward building a better future.
"You are not measured by the decisions you've made in life. Look in the mirror and see the good in you," Gonzales said.
SCBC alum Eleanor Zachary told current clients about overcoming her 27-year struggle with addiction. She said focusing on the future, instead of the past, is helping her.
"Just because we've been on parole, that's just a title. Don't live it," Zachary said.
The program is designed to help people transition back into their local communities and families, resume their educations, and find and start successful careers. During the last year, 30-40% of the total Sacramento County parole population has been referred to the SCBC program. Less than one-third of those clients recommit and are sent back to prison. The state recidivism rate is nearly 75-percent.
"Your involvement with the SCBC is proof of your dedication to successfully transitioning into school, into the workforce, your communities and back into your family life," David W. Gordon, Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools, told the honorees. "You are trying to make monumental changes in your lives and your devotion to this goal is inspiring."
Sacramento County Board of Education Trustees Jacquelyn Levy and Greg Geeting joined Superintendent Gordon, Assistant Superintendent Tim Taylor, and SCBC Administrator Bill Lane, who served as emcee for the event, in recognizing the clients' accomplishments.
Program participants are eligible to receive educational services that include literacy skills, GED and high school diplomas, math skills, vocational training referrals, and substance abuse education. Participants include men and women on parole in Sacramento County who have been referred by their Parole Agent.
"I think this program is right for the state, it's right for the department, and it's the right thing for you," said Matthew Cate, CDCR Secretary. "Thank you for doing the hard work of changing course."
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.
Collaborative program partners include: California Department of Corrections of Rehabilitation (CDCR), CalTrans, Northern California Construction Training (NCCT), Center for Fathers and Families, River City Recovery, Bridges, House of Integrity, Hope, Help & Healing, California Wraparound, Sobriety Brings a Change, and Safety Center.