By Albert Rivas, Deputy Chief, CDCR Office of External Affairsand Joe Orlando, CDCR Public Information Officer
by Don Chaddock
Dozens of at-risk youth recently participated in a program designed to keep them in school and out of prison.The Youth Training Conference brought together the Solano County Office of Education, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), and Continuing the Dream, a diversion program for troubled youth.
Also participating in the live video conference were inmates from the California Institution for Women (CIW) and the California Reception Center (CRC). The purpose of the conference was to educate students about how to effectively navigate through life’s challenges by making better choices, and breaking the cycle of incarceration. All students attending the training were selected because they were expelled from mainstream public schools. Students volunteered to be on camera and be a part of a program which hopefully will change their lives for the better.
Roy Mabry, Chief Executive Officer, Correctional Employees Youth Group, coordinates youth diversion training programs throughout California hoping to reach as many troubled youth as possible. As a retired CDCR Correctional Lieutenant, his organization utilizes assistance from CDCR institutions to help steer youth in a positive direction so they can become successful and productive adults.
The room was evenly divided with boys and girls from Golden Hills Community School in Fairfield. Inmates listened then provided direction on how to handle the negative emotions, and offered suggestions for navigating through future challenges by making positive choices.
Students voiced concerns about gangs, violence, drugs and incarcerated parents or tragic deaths having contributed to their choices. After the training, one student said, “I don’t want to go to prison because I have a future. I want to get back to public school and finish high school. Then I’m going to college and getting a good job to start my own life with my own family. I’m not going to let anyone bring me down, not even my family.”
One female inmate from CIW said, “You have an opportunity. Get educated, start changing and break the cycle. Someone cares about you.”
Learn more about the program, Continuing the Dream, http://www.continuingthedream.com/.
For additionial information, please call Albert Rivas at (916) 445-4950 or email Albert.Rivas@cdcr.ca.gov