California State Prison, Solano, outreach program seeks to educate youth about prison life’s reality

Inmates try to impress upon troubled youth the dangers of prison life.

Youths listen to inmates describing the mistakes the inmates made that led them to prison.

Not only are inmates and CDCR employees helping turn around lives of troubled youth, but they are also raising funds for good causes.

On Aug. 21, the California State Prison, Solano, Prisoner Outreach Program (POP) donated  $13,823.24 to the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District/Public Safety Academy and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

090814 CSP Solano POP Mike and Robyn

Not only are inmates and CDCR employees helping turn around lives of troubled youth, but they are also raising funds for good causes.

Deputy Michael Saigeon, founder of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Community Impact Program, is seen with Robyn Cole, with California State Prison, Solano.

Back in March, POP donated $7,109.96 to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Impact Program.

What is POP?

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Youth Services Unit works in collaboration with CSP Solano to provide an opportunity for incorrigible youth to have an experiential look at prison life. The target is males and females between the ages of 12 and 17 who are not on probation. Participation is by application only.

POP is a voluntary community program operated by inmates and staff at CSP Solano. POP is not “scared straight.”

According to organizers, POP does not judge, shame, humiliate or force anyone into change. POP is not used as a punitive measure. All parents and youth attending POP, do so voluntarily.

090814 CSP Solano POP Debbie, Robyn, Paula

Debby Walker and Paula Villescaz, both members of the Sheriff’s Community Impact Program Board of Directors, speak with Robyn Cole (right), Peer Support Program Team Member, Prisoner’s Outreach Program Sponsor, California State Prison, Solano.

The recognition and understanding of choices and consequences, along with positive guidance, can effectively stop destructive behavior, organizers state.

One purpose of this program is to educate guests about blind spots (unresolved feelings, thoughts, resentments and occurrences that are missed or swept under the rug) which can contribute to, or fuel, dysfunctional cycles like: gangs, addictions, domestic violence and trans-generational incarceration.

POP exposes guests to the harsh realities of prison life, instead of glamorizing a criminal lifestyle. POP teaches guests ways to break the barriers to communication, and illustrates how their actions hurt the people who love them the most.

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4 Responses

  1. M. Lopez Thursday, September 11, 2014 / 4:25 pm

    It takes a village

  2. M. Smith Wednesday, September 10, 2014 / 11:01 pm

    Robyn Cole is an amazing person whose efforts have allowed prisoners to “give back” by helping youth begin to understand the potential long term consequences of their actions. The program should be in every prison.

  3. Deborah Rei Wednesday, September 10, 2014 / 3:49 pm

    It’s an absolute necessity to educate youth about the “reality” of prison to combat the misperceived “glories.” Fantastic work! How do we start such a program in other prisons? I am a GED teacher at Sierra Conservation Center Adult School in Jamestown. I emphasize discussing how students can prepare to make other choices and be successful in the “real world,” putting gang and prison politics aside. This is a very needed outreach program!

  4. F. Hernandez Monday, September 8, 2014 / 10:45 pm

    Programs like this should be in all state prisons. Educating children while they are young is the best way to prevent them from becoming a resident.

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