3 Questions with…James Searcy, Electricial Works Instructor
As part of Back to School Month, educators throughout CDCR are sharing their thoughts on the importance of correctional education. Meet James Searcy, Electrical Works Instructor at Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (SATF). His course is one of many Career Technical Education (CTE) courses the Office of Correctional Education offers. These courses provide industry-recognized certification and an employment pathway to both a career and a livable wage.
What is your background and how did you arrive in your current position?
A couple of years out of high school I began my career as an electrician. I worked residential, commercial, and industrial. In 1997 I was hired by the Department of Corrections, where I worked for Plant Operations at SATF as an Electrician II. One day a colleague of mine informed me the education department was hiring, so I applied and got the job as an electrical instructor at the Tulare Lake Adult School at SATF in 2007. Although it took many years to become comfortable teaching in a correctional environment, it turned out to be the best job in my entire career. Seeing the students I taught become successful, I knew I found my true calling.
Why is CTE a vital part of education?
Career and Technical Education (CTE) gives students the necessary tools to be successful in the modern workplace. Not only does this include career and academic skill, it also includes important soft skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, and innovation. Today, more than ever, employers want to hire entry-level employees who can hit the ground running. This is where CTE comes in.
What is something about your program that might surprise people?
CTE classes serve as an immediate solution for incarcerated individuals to return back to the community with the skill set needed to be productive citizens. It gives students a plethora of opportunities after leaving, and without the taxpayers’ hard-earned money, none of this would be possible. It costs more than $100,000 per year to incarcerate someone in prison in California. A 2013 study by the Rand Corporation found people who participated in educational programs were 43 percent less likely to return to prison within three years than those who did not participate. The study found every dollar invested in prison education programs saved nearly $5 on later incarceration costs, and through reducing recidivism, correctional education was cost-effective for states. Compared to incarceration’s direct costs, correctional education offers an estimated 400 percent return on investment for taxpayers over three years. The report also stated the odds of obtaining employment post-release among those who participated in correctional education were 13 percent higher than the odds for those who had not participated in an education program (either academic or CTE).
Women’s Equality Day is August 26
To encourage employees to expand their knowledge and gain new experiences, CDCR/CCHCS GARE Ambassadors are sharing celebrations throughout the year. Learn more about the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, visit the GARE website.
Submission by GARE Ambassador Sonia A. Bahro
August 26 is a day to honor the heroes who drove the women’s movement despite facing discrimination and violence. Women’s Equality Day celebrates the passage of the 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920, which secured voting rights for all citizens regardless of gender. The 19th Amendment was actually first introduced in 1878, but failed to have enough momentum and support to pass. With the crucial involvement of women during World War I working in various industries now vacant due to the men going off to war, women provided support and without their efforts, America’s victory would not have been possible.
In 1972, President Nixon issued a proclamation that designated August 26 as Women’s Equality Day. This was a first step in securing equal rights for women. Since the passing of the 19th Amendment, women have continued to make strides toward equality by advocating for gender discrimination laws and paving the way for equal economic opportunity for women. In the early 19th century, women could not inherit property and made half a man’s wages, and while we still have further gains to accomplish, Women’s Equality Day reminds us that change is possible.
Agent leads youth basketball team to victory
In 2012, Parole Agent Gilberto Haro knew very little about basketball but has since fostered a great appreciation for the game and enjoyed watching his son play for both the Elitez and the St. John Eagles of the Oakland Diocese Catholic Youth Organization (CYO). In 2016, Haro got an opportunity to assist in coaching. There was a steep learning curve, but Haro enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity.
That year, the team won the CYO Championship and the travel team won multiple tournaments. The following year, Haro was promoted to Head Coach. After a tough season, the Eagles lost in the second round of the playoffs but bounced back the following year to take the championship before heading off to high school.
After two years of not playing basketball due to COVID-19, Haro is looking forward to upcoming practices and listening to the crowds support the kids on the court. Haro’s volunteer commitment of coaching youth basketball speaks to DAPO’s guiding principle of building and strengthening community partnerships.
In our Institutions
CHCF employees help local students start the school year right
For the second time within a year, California Health Care Facility (CHCF) staff paid a visit to the students of Montezuma School. This time instead of a truck filled with Christmas gifts, CHCF staff arrived with a van filled with school supplies for each student.
Due to support from CHCF staff, Target, Walmart and Costco, CHCF was able to distribute more than 10,000 pencils, 2,300 pens, 700, crayons, 480 notebooks and 500 drawstring backpacks and various school supplies. With such generous donations CHCF was able to give every student school supplies and every teacher classroom supplies including but not limited to Kleenex, hand sanitizer, dry eraser markers, construction paper and writing paper.
In addition CHCF would like to thank the Chicano Correctional Workers Association, who gave a little extra to ensure six students who lost one or more parent(s) received backpacks full of supplies and a $100 Visa gift card.
Succession Management newsletter offers leadership tips
CDCR’s Succession Management Program’s August 2022 newsletter is now available for all employees. This month’s topics include information about leadership, Women’s Equality Day, exam resources, and information about upcoming events. Read the newsletter.
Suicide Prevention and Recovery Awareness Month (September)
Throughout September, the Council on Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health (CCJBH) will host virtual lunch-and-learn webinars on topics related to suicide prevention and substance use disorder recovery resources. CCJBH will also share helpful resources with listserv subscribers each Monday and and Friday of the month. Below are the proposed webinar topics:
- Week 1: September 5-9, 2022: 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Implementation Register here
- Week 2: September 12-16, 2022: Addiction Treatment: Shatterproof Register here
- Week 3: September 19-23, 2022: Co-Occurring Disorders Register here
- Week 4: September 26-30, 2022: Recovery Services Register here
Juvenile Justice Workgroup
When: September 16, 2022, 12:45-2:45 p.m.
Where: Virtual via Zoom, register here
Description: At the Juvenile Justice Workgroup, CCJBH will discuss and approve CCJBH 2022 recommendations related to the juvenile justice system in California. The agenda will be posted to the CCJBH website by September 6, 2022.
Diversion and Reentry Workgroup
When: September 16, 2022, 3-5 p.m.
Where: Virtual via Zoom, register here
Description: At the Diversion and Reentry Workgroup, CCJBH will discuss and approve CCJBH 2022 recommendations related to the furtherance of diversion and reentry activities throughout California.
The agenda will be posted to the CCJBH website by September 6, 2022.
Full Council Meeting
When: October 28, 2022, 2-4:30 p.m.
Where: Virtual via Zoom, register here
Description: The Full Council Meeting will highlight current investments in housing. The California Interagency Council on Homelessness has been invited to present. The agenda will be posted to the CCJBH website by October 18, 2022.
In the Media
How long would it take a collection of amateur musicians, working in new collaborative partnerships, to create an hour’s worth of original material from scratch? And does it change the equation if the artists in question are all incarcerated?
The answer, it turns out, is just three days, if the circumstances are right.
That was the lesson from an initiative staged earlier this week at San Quentin, through a collaboration among the Prison Arts Project of the William James Association in Santa Cruz and the New York-based organization Musicambia. Read the full story.
The wardens of the California Institution for Men and the California Institution for Women, both located in Chino, were on hand Tuesday morning to inform the community about prison happenings.
Both wardens encouraged residents to apply for corrections officer and other staff positions, or to volunteer at the prisons.
“Our corrections officers make up to $107,000 a year,” said Delinia Lewis, associate warden for the California Institution for Women (CIW). “We would love to increase our workforce with people from the local community.”
Every other month, the wardens, accompanied by numerous associate wardens and high-ranking officers, hold meetings with their citizen advisory committees to provide updates and information about issues such as mental health, custody operations, COVID, and outreach programs. Read the full story.
Pitzer College graduate Reggie Bullock ’22, who earned his degree through Pitzer’s Inside-Out Pathway-to-BA program, has been accepted to the Jesse Unruh California Assembly Fellowship, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious fellowship programs. Founded in 1957, the 11-month program offers aspiring public servants the opportunity to directly participate in the legislative process and help shape public policy.
“It’s a surreal moment in my life,” said Bullock. “When I sit back and reflect from my time beginning in the criminal justice system at 14 years old to now, just getting out after a 17-year sentence, it’s definitely surreal. I’m anxious to apply myself to something good.”
Bullock is one of eight members of an initial cohort of students from the California Rehabilitation Center who have graduated from Pitzer through the Inside-Out Pathway-to-BA program. He received his associate degree for transfer in sociology from Norco College and his bachelor’s degree in organizational studies from Pitzer. Read the full story.
Chef Keith Corbin was raised in the Jordan Downs housing project in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles — home of the infamous Grape Street Crips — and his culinary path began quite differently than most chefs’ careers.
At the age of 13, Corbin started cooking crack for local gangs and became so proficient that he was dispatched to other cities to craft drugs. However, his prowess at narcotic creation eventually led to him being incarcerated for a decade in the maximum-security Calipatria State Prison in Southern California. It was behind those hard-knock prison walls that Corbin developed his culinary point of view, relying on limited resources and an intense desire to rehabilitate his life. Read the full story.