Video by Clarissa Resultan, TV Specialist
Office of Public and Employee Communications
Meet Parole Agent III Martin Figueroa, who has dedicated his career to helping others on their journey back home.
Figueroa, known as “Fig” to most everybody, is the creator of the Peer Reentry Navigation Network (PRNN), a program specifically for former long-term inmates who have been found suitable for release by the Board of Parole hearings. The program that started in the Bay Area has expanded statewide.
Being released back to society after many years of incarceration presents numerous challenges that PRNN will address, including finding housing, employment and reuniting with friends and family. Equally important, the group provides a support system of people who have experienced the impact of long-term incarceration, parole professionals who specialize in serving that population, and community partners who provide services and support.
In recognition of his service, Figueroa was awarded a Jefferson Award, which honors individuals for their achievements and contributions through public and community service. KPIX, which has partnered with the Jefferson Awards for more than 14 years, was at a recent PRNN meeting to see Fig at work. Their profile of the excellent parole agent will air at 5 p.m. July 3, noon on July 4 and at 6 p.m. July 5.
View CDCR’s video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Tk9Ag5ZZeRE (link opens different website and may not be available to state employees).
Figueroa always takes it home.
Early morning, San Francisco.
About 100 parolees are gathered at the Mission Street Parole Office.
I’m out and I’m going to stay out.
That’s my goal.
It’s a meeting of CDCR’s Division of Adult Parole Operations Peer Reentry Navigator Network.
Here, parole agents take stock of individual parolees’ needs.
The goal: To help them successfully get back into life outside prison walls and away from crime.
But today’s is a meeting unlike most.
Cameras, a news anchorman, and visitors are crowded in, too.
Mr. Figueroa is getting an award today.
A well-deserved award.
Fig, as most people call this outstanding parole agent, has been chosen to receive the Jefferson Award.
CDCR’s cameras are here, too, to catch a behind-the-scenes look at the momentous occasion.
The Jefferson Award was set up …originally Jackie Kennedy Onassis was one of the original co-founders.
But it’s basically a regional award and sometimes a national award for public service.
To recognize sort of the unsung heroes in the community.
Fig was instrumental in designing a unique program aimed at helping inmates who spent long prison terms succeed.
Now it’s the model for similar programs all over the state.
He’s just so passionate, passionate about the people he helps.
Passionate about the reason they’re doing it, and passionate about the results they’re getting.
That’s what’s so impressive, is that 90 to 95 percent of these parolees are not going back.
These parolees are confused by some things most people take for granted, such as reconnecting with their families, and technology like cellphones, computers, emailing, texting.
Then there are basics like getting a driver’s license and securing housing.
That’s what these discussions are for.
The life struggles that all of you have are the life struggles we have, too.
We just went different routes, but we’re all dealing with the same issues and having the same struggles together, as a family.
And so if we could introduce everyone else, Steve, all of you guys, can you guys come in please?
A very big family.
Agent Figueroa insisted on everyone who has helped the more than 800 offenders become law-abiding citizens sharing in the spotlight.
Martin truly, truly cares about the people who work with him, you know?
And he believes in relationships, building a good relationship, you know?
As a leader that’s what you have to have.
Agent Martin Figueroa is trying to change the world one troubled person at a time.
And there are moments that signal that’s exactly what he’s doing.
One day he was assigned a new parolee and got a call from the father of the man the parolee had murdered, who said:
Do me a favor. Would you tell the parolee when he gets out that I forgive him?
That I want him to live the life that my son couldn’t live.
The next day, 5:30 a.m., he went to drug test the new parolee at his residential program and relay the message.
If you can imagine, this guy was about 270 pounds, all muscle, hard core.
He said, “What’s up? What do you want to say? What do you want to say?”
I said, he wanted to say that he forgives you and to live the life that his son couldn’t live.
And he fell to his knees and started crying.
So if you’re asking me what I do the job for, that very moment if you would have told me 20 years ago, look we’re not going to pay you much Figueroa in this job, but you’re going to have a moment where you’re actually going to see redemption?
This right now made it all worth it for me.
Thank you Fig.