Friday, June 25, 2010

Reentry Meetings

This format of providing services to parolees, as reported by the Sacramento Bee— though services have not been shown to be the key element in rehabilitation, internal change being the animating factor—can have a negative impact by congregating large numbers of parolees in the same place at the same time.

It is always more convenient for the programs to deal with people in groups, but the most effective change will occur through one-on-one peer relationships.

That being said, we wish them the very best.

An excerpt.

“Seated in a cavernous hall surrounded by dozens of parolees, Chassirae Fuiavamaae had a change of heart.

“Fuiavamaae thought attending a Parole and Community Team meeting, which is mandatory for parolees just released from prison, would be a waste of time.

“Then she heard a man who served time for murder speak about achieving impossibilities and a woman who turned from felon to advocate – stories of transformation that touched her. "Being here, it showed me that there's help out there," Fuiavamaae said. "There are people who care for us."

“Once a week in Sacramento, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's parole division holds the meeting – called PACT for short – at the Charles A. Jones skill center building on Lemon Hill Avenue.

“There, newly released parolees are introduced to a smorgasbord of nonprofit agencies that provide resources including housing, employment, educational opportunities, substance abuse and anger management counseling.

“The Department of Motor Vehicles also participates in the meeting, which functions similarly to a job fair with different booths the parolees can visit.

“Officials describe the event as a "one-stop shop" for parolees looking to assimilate back into society. "A parolee gets information here about providers at their fingertips," said Robert Graham, a corrections parole agent.

“Graham said the program has been in place statewide for about 10 years. As of January 2009, there were 74 PACT program locations throughout California, corrections officials said.

“Daiquari Ross, PACT's community resource coordinator, said about 65 percent of providers report that parolees utilize their services.

“The rate of recidivism among paroled felons – the rate of felons returning to prison within three years – is 49.9 percent in Sacramento County, according to 2009 corrections data that track felons released from prisons in 2005 for the first time. That's below the statewide rate of 59 percent.”