It started at 1:00pm. The first speaker was an ex-inmate who now works in San Francisco for a health services agency. He spoke about the discipline, determination, and hope we'll need to maintain to make a successful re-entry into the world. He told us how his first day back in the world was, and exhorted us to exercise patience and gratitude.
He was followed by representatives from two different Re-Entry homes. I always pay close attention to the people who come from re-entry homes and in particular I look to see how they talk to and interact with the inmates they come to describe their services to. I give an A+ to the representative from HealthRight 360 and a C- to the one from Cache Creek.
The final three speakers on the dais were newly-hired prison staff whose job will entail working with inmates six months before their scheduled release, to identify their needs and match them up with state-run resources in the real world. Those resources are now being made more available in the hopes that more inmates will succeed on parole and not come back to jail. The State of California is serious about fixing the revolving prison door.
Another thing the newly-hired staff will do is teach re-entry classes. Those who take advantage of all the available new programs stand a good chance of doing well on parole. I'm not saying that the new programs are perfect or that they will make the transition easy, but success is possible, especially if you have discipline and the right attitude.