By Yara Del Rio-Dominguez |Staff Writer|
CSUSB’s Correctional Education department has been awarded a grant and has currently received $5.8 million in aid for the planning and implementation of a re-entry program.
The program helps promote the safe and successful reintegration of recently incarcerated or detained individuals into the community through using evidence based practices designed to help reduce the risk of re-offending.
Participants then must enroll in their court-mandated courses such as anger management and substance abuse.
Parolees are addressed as “students” in the program and are also encouraged to sign up for mandated courses, many of whom enroll in G.E.D. preparation courses.
All courses, mandated or general ed, require zero cost from participants.
“Parolees also organize themselves in student government elections, which are held about every eight months, and they give speeches every month,” said Dr. Thom Gehring.
The parolees go on to hold student government elections within the program for positions such as president, vice president, secretary and treasurer.
They even use the U.S. Constitution as their own.
Working for Cal Trans helps students develop work skills.
Dr. Thom Gehring explains how parolee students work for the community as Cal Trans offers two shifts to those who are in the program.
The Cal State San Bernardino Reentry Initiative, (CSRI) has received donations of both new and old clothes which are then distributed to all the parolee students in the program.
Student Liem Pham said, “This program sounds good because its helping both sides out, everyone deserves a second chance and these professors are giving them a chance to get back into the community in a positive way.”
CSRI is the first re-entry program in the county working in cooperation with a University and is studying how parolees change and grow throughout the program.
Many parolees graduate and move on to carry essential skills learned to obtain and maintain a job, and simply reintegrate themselves in the community in a positive mind.
“The program has a research focus generally and points to the number of university faculty that are involved in the program, from social work, education, technology, sociology and criminal justice,” said CSUSB Professor Carolyn Eggleston, Director of Correctional Education.
CSRI is rich with opportunities for students who are looking for an internship or those who are seeking research opportunities within the field.
“Sounds like a great program, and it’s cool how CSUSB is the first University to be involved. Personally I wouldn’t involve myself, I’d be more concerned for my safety dealing with parolee’s,” said Pham.
Student Isabel Magana said, “I would be interested in interning to obtain experience in teaching before I start to teach in an classroom, but I wouldn’t be too comfortable in the program taking into account their serious crimes and my mind would constantly be thinking about it.”
CSUSB’s Reentry Initiative has assisted 636 parolees to date, and is currently expanding to the High Desert and Riverside County.