The way back homeFeatures — November 15, 2011
They are returning San Bernardino residents who have paid their dues to society and are now at a crossroads.
One route would be to do nothing — a route that would likely lure them back to the ways that led them to prison. But another route is through the San Bernardino Day Reporting Center, a program from Cal State San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Correctional Education. The center offers parolees training, education and counseling to help them transition back into becoming productive members of society. It’s also giving them hope.
That kind of success will also benefit the city, which is home for many of the parolees. According to a 2008 Cal State San Bernardino survey of about 180 parolees living in the city, nearly 95 percent of them were originally from San Bernardino – a far cry from the belief that the prisons and courts were dumping parolees from other areas into San Bernardino.
The San Bernardino Day Reporting Center, which is funded by a $1.2 million, three-year grant through the California Department of Corrections, is expected to serve up to 300 recently paroled men and women per year over a three-year period, said professor Carolyn Eggleston, who serves as the grant’s principal investigator and is a co-director of the CSUSB Center for the Study of Correctional Education.
The goal, she said, is to reduce recidivism through community reintegration that works. When that happens, public safety improves. “We want to help parolees successfully reintegrate into their communities after being released from prison.”
The center provides post-custody services, including case management with transition plans; substance abuse education; courses in criminal thinking, anger and aggression, and pro-social relationships; and general and vocational education.
Under the grant, the center will track and evaluate how many parolees find work or enroll in schools, such as trade schools, community colleges or adult schools, so that they’re better prepared once they complete the program. It also will watch how many parolees continue to work, live in stable housing, avoid illegal substances and complete the program successfully.
The San Bernardino Day Reporting Center is one of only nine in the state and the lone one operated in cooperation with a university. Seven are for-profit operations and the eighth is in Santa Barbara — contracted through the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
Founded in 1993, the CSUSB Center for the Study of Correctional Education is the only organization of its kind working to support teachers and administrators who teach in confinement institutions and alternative settings worldwide.
The center has already seen some successes. Employers have approached the center looking for workers, said Eggleston, who added that a construction company recently hired about 25 of their clients for temporary work.
“The program only goes for a month, but the potential is there,” Eggleston said. “Every little bit helps.”