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Local News

Santa Barbara Day Reporting Center Graduates Its First Class of Former Inmates

Local officials speak highly of the program, which teaches participants skills for life

In a ceremony Thursday at Elings Park, 25 former state prison inmates became the first to graduate from a life skills program operated by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department and Community Solutions Inc.

In 2010, the Sheriff’s Department opened two Day Reporting Centers in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria, initiating a program aimed at helping offenders re-enter society productively. Participants in the program work with case managers and employment specialists to set goals for obtaining further education, work experience and additional skills to help them transition back into the community. More than 100 participants are active in the program, with 40 percent employed or attending school full time.

Speakers for Thursday’s ceremony included District Attorney Joyce Dudley, Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, Sheriff Bill Brown and county Supervisor Janet Wolf, among others.

Capps spoke of the importance of reducing recidivism with programs such as the Day Reporting Center. She said that unemployment, along with the lack of guidance and access to education, all play a role in the rate of repeat offenses among parolees. She lauded the effort and accomplishments made by the program participants to better their lives.

“You should all draw strength from the fact that you have completed an amazing feat here,” she said.

Dudley also spoke highly of those in the program, for their willingness to confront what they had done and to change for the better.

“You have all made mistakes, you have paid the price for your mistakes, and now you are ready to turn your lives around,” she said.

One of the program participants who has clearly turned his life around is Mauricio Isaac, who was honored with the Tom Jenkins Award. Isaac told of the difficulty he experienced in transitioning back into society, going from a cell where he was provided with everything to his old neighborhood where he had nothing. Through the Day Reporting Center program, Isaac was given the tools he needed to achieve his educational goals, and passed his first semester at SBCC with straight As.

“Words can’t explain my gratitude toward Community Solutions,” he said.

Next Thursday, 25 more former inmates will graduate in a similar ceremony in Santa Maria.

Noozhawk intern NickSt. Oegger can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here to see more of his photography. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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