Proven program gets parolees back to work
A group photo of the first 2 work crews under the California State Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation grant to the San Bernardino Community College District. Shown standing left to right: Robert Levesque, Director, Workforce Development, SBCCD; Sergio Guerrero; Lacy Adams; Alejandro Diaz; Terrance Earl; Sally Jones; Kendall Payton; Candy Cuellar; Nathaniel Griffin; Gene Mahoney; Raymond Tillman; Angelo Boston; and Fernando Soto, Work Crew Supervisor; Sarah Glenn-Leistikow, Director, San Bernardino Center for Employment Opportunities; Lee Jones and Robert Harper. Kneeling left to right: Steven Figueroa; Rony Asencio, Work Crew Supervisor; Devynn Allee; and Henry Chappell
SAN BERNARDINO: The San Bernardino Community College District, through the Professional Development Center, an arm of the Economic Development and Corporate Training (EDCT) Division has received from the California State Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) a three year, $2.6 million dollar contract to coordinate workforce activities in collaboration with the San Bernardino Re-entry Initiative (CSRI), the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) and the Caltrans Parolee Work Crew Program (Caltrans).
Chancellor Bruce Baron noted, “This multi-agency effort will allow ex-offenders to transition productively into the community while simultaneously increasing public safety. The mission of the EDCT is to stimulate the economic prosperity of the Inland Empire through workforce development, and this program exemplifies the Division’s goal. “
The PDC, along with Caltrans and CEO, will coordinate the placement of parolees to perform certain labor intensive and transitional work crew assignments including litter and debris removal, creating firebreaks, plant restoration, storm damage repair, etc. Participants will receive $10.00 per hour and are allowed to work 32 hours per week. Once the ex-offender has worked a total of 90 days, they may apply to Caltrans for permanent full-time jobs.
Dr. Matthew Isaac, CEO of the EDCT noted that the award is the work of Robert Levesque, Director, Workforce Development of the PDC. Dr. Isaac said, “As a result of Mr. Levesque’s on-going collaborative efforts with Inland Empire Community Based Organizations and EDCT’s commitment to economic and workforce development, the PDC was asked to partner in this effort which resulted in EDCT securing the contract.”
At present, the San Bernardino Re-entry Initiative (CSRI) provides post-release services such as personal and drug counseling, agency referrals, and classes in basic skills and anger management. Now entering its 3rd year of operation, parolees participating in the CSRI program collectively have a 16.7% recidivism rate as compared to a state-wide average of over 65%.
The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) is an organization exclusively dedicated to providing transitional employment and other vocational services for men and women returning home from incarceration, a program that reduces recidivism rates, helps communities increase public safety and decreases tax dollars spent on incarceration. CEO currently operates 45 parolee work crews across 5 locations in New York, 3 in California and 1 in Oklahoma that employ approximately 275 formerly incarcerated people every day. CEO recently opened one its newest locations in San Bernardino County.