Many former offenders struggle to find success because the transition to life after incarceration is difficult. There are many challenges: lack of job training, lack of a high school diploma or equivalent, and the absence of valuable life skills. However, a group of former Yolo County Jail inmates has been recognized for successfully meeting many of the challenges involved with transition.
During a November 19 ceremony at the Yolo County Office of Education, 27 members of the inaugural class of the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) Yolo Day Reporting Center (DRC) were honored for successfully completing the core components of the transition program.
"I've been able to separate myself from who I was in the past. Today, I'm a doer," said Tim Williams, who served as the event's alumni speaker. "The possibilities are endless. Success comes for you if you work for it but it takes time and effort. You have to decide what you want and go after it. And that's what I did."
The Yolo DRC program is a collaborative effort between SCOE, the Yolo County Sheriffs' Department, the Yolo County Probation Department, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
"The money spent to serve 285 clients is the same amount of money that would incarcerate 14 inmates for a year. I believe that this is money well spent," said Marc Nigel, SCOE Director of Community Based Coalitions, Day Reporting Centers and Adult Programs.
The Yolo DRC opened in February 2013. It provides vocational training and life skills programs designed to teach former inmates and offenders the skills needed to find and keep a job. Clients also have access to educational programs, drug and alcohol treatment, and parenting and anger-management classes. The services are offered, at no cost to the client, at the Cameron Training Center building which is adjacent to the Yolo County Jail. To date, the Yolo DRC has served a total of 285 clients.
"Who would have thought several years ago that the Public Defender, the District Attorney and the Sheriff would be working hand in hand for the same cause?" said Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto, who served as keynote speaker. "All of us have a common goal and that is to help as many people who choose to be successful."
"We cannot say enough about the great partnership and cooperation we have enjoyed with Yolo County in launching this innovative program," said Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools David W. Gordon, as he addressed the gathering. "I want to offer my thanks to our partners because none of this would be possible without such an outstanding collaboration. "
The program provides comprehensive, evidence-based services to men and women on probation, parole, or releasing from the Yolo County jail. The overarching goal is to reduce recidivism through effective community integration. This is done by addressing the causes of re-offending behavior, thereby strengthening individuals and families, and improving public safety as a whole. Clients are referred by the Sheriff, Probation Department, or Parole Office to participate in the program.
Partner agencies offer services such as GED Preparation, 52-Week Batterer's Intervention, and Substance Abuse classes. Additionally, these partners assist clients with benefits eligibility, child support, veterans outreach, and other public resources.