More than 70 formerly incarcerated Santa Barbara County residents are better equipped to be in society after completing a comprehensive reentry program at the Day Reporting Centers in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara.
At a ceremony held Wednesday at the Unitarian Church in Santa Barbara, 28 clients received their graduation certificates and medals before a room full of supportive family and friends.
On August 6, another graduation ceremony was held at the Historic Santa Maria Inn for 46 clients who successfully completed the program.
Graduate John Piccirillo, who served 30 years in prison on a bank robbery conviction, said that participating in the Day Reporting Center’s program saved his life.
He said, “I have been a criminal all of my life. I have never had a job and never cared for anyone other than myself. This gave me the opportunity to make something out of my life and give back while I am doing it.”
All of the graduates are former state prisoners who were referred to the Day Reporting Centers from their parole agents and participate voluntarily. Because each client is unique, case managers and specialists focus on issues specific to the individual and their circumstances.
The range of topics include, but are not limited to, substance abuse treatment, cognitive behavioral intervention, employment services, career planning, school counseling, transitional housing support and service opportunities. The participants set personal goals and develop skills to help them make positive changes in their lives.
The Day Reporting Center’s Program Director, Katie Ward, spoke at the graduation ceremony in Santa Barbara today and said, “These graduates have accomplished a lot. They are employed, in school or otherwise self-sufficient, they are sober, they’ve learned to make better choices and they are contributing.”
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office and Community Solutions, Inc. opened the Day Reporting Centers in 2010. This year, more than 300 clients participated county-wide.