The Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) connects people on parole with community resources to help them succeed. During a recent resource fair, Inside CDCR met people seeking services as well as parole professionals fostering rehabilitation.
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One example is Alejandro Hernandez, out of prison for just a week after serving a five-year sentence. He said now he’s trying to turn his life around.
“That’s why I’m here today, to seek help because I need it,” said Hernandez. “I’m trying to better myself for my kids.”
After serving 19 years for his crimes, Bruce Dickerson was paroled in June.
“Man, I don’t know what I’d do without it,” he said. “There’s people here reaching out to call me, and set up appointments, help me to get MediCal/Medicare, set me up with a job interview, help me with my resume. The outreach here is just awesome. You can’t compare it.”
Parolees have varied needs
The Parole Reentry Resource Center in Stockton is busy helping parolees acclimate back into society. This is like a one-stop shop for those hoping to turn their lives around.
“If they have specific needs (such as) the DMV, child support, getting IDs, work resources, housing, counseling, drug counseling, anything they can ask for, is local here in the office,” explained Gabriella Aguilera, Chief Deputy Administrator of DAPO.
Some parolees seeking help were released the day of the event, while others just days or a few years prior.
Recent studies by the Manhattan Institute show the sooner people are employed after release, they are less likely to commit future crimes resulting in incarceration.
“A lot of parolees don’t know where to go (or) how to get help. This is a resource-rich environment (where) we strive to meet any needs they have,” Aguilera said. “If we can’t, we’ll get them to the right person who can.”
For some, the resource center is another step along the rehabilitative journey they started during incarceration.
Francisco Salazar worked on his future while still incarcerated. Now he hopes to find a job using the skills he has learned.
“You could get a job right away, or at least they’ll guide you in the right direction to get what you need, what you’re available to get. I think that’s definitely helpful,” Salazar said. “Also, take a class that has to do with bettering yourself (such as) community relations (and) anger management. I think they’re pretty essential, too. (They are) not for everybody, but for the people who know they need it and want to make a difference, I think that’s an awesome opportunity you have here,” Salazar said.
What are parole Reentry Resource Centers?
The first Reentry Resource Center was opened in Los Angeles on November 1, 2021.
Today there are four Reentry Resource Centers at parole offices statewide with locations in Los Angeles, Stockton, Pomona, Chico. There is also another one located offsite in Oakland.
DAPO is beginning to track feedback from the parolees, parole agents, and community resource providers. Even though they have been around for less than a year, those involved say the program is reaching hundreds of parolees, and changing lives in a positive way.
“There are those who are gonna ask for the help. It’s not gonna get handed to you. (But,) we got it easy, we just got to show up and ask for it, who doesn’t want that,” said Hernandez.
Story by Joe Orlando, video by Rob Stewart
CDCR Office of Public and Employee Communications