Madera County Probation partners with Valley State Prison to help at-risk kids
By Lt. Matthew R. Osborn, AA/Public Information Officer
Valley State Prison
A state prison program targeting at-risk kids recently saw a group come through a facility in Madera County.
Valley State Prison Re-Direct Youth Diversion program helps at risk youth re-direct their lives by inmates sharing their stories with the youth and following up.
At risk youth from Madera County participated in the program in mid-January.
Inmates volunteer to participate in the program and must complete training in parenting, conflict resolution, self-esteem, guidance and discipline, family relationships, communications, family traditions and behavior. The training process takes about six months.
Volunteer staff at Valley State Prison, along with Madera County Probation, have committed to providing at-risk youth with resources to assist them before they begin committing serious crimes.
In a nutshell, the youth were given a tour of the institution and then counseled by volunteer inmates. While helping steer young people away from risky behaviors, the program also helps inmates in their rehabilitation by giving back, according to officials with the program.
Valley State Prison Re-Direct Youth Diversion program’s goal is to give insight to the youth on the effects of negative behavior and what their consequences may be if they choose to continue down their negative path. It also reminds them not to take for granted the freedoms they have in life now and that the choice is theirs.
- The youth were brought into the institution by custody staff and introduced to the inmates. Once inside the facility staff members inform the youth of the prison rules. The kids were then served breakfast and given a lunch just as the inmates receive.
- They were then escorted into one of the Housing Units, where they were able to experience the reality of where the inmates live day-to-day.
- The kids are then taken to the visiting room where the inmates introduce themselves to the youth. The inmates talk about their crimes and life experiences that resulted in them being in prison.
- At this point, the youth’s demeanor starts to change and as inmates begin to speak to them utilizing the training they received. The youth are divided into groups of five, attempting to get them to open up about their negative behavior and getting to the cause of it.
- After the group sessions, the youth stand before everyone and voice their commitment to change their behavior.
- All participants receive certificates of completion. A follow up is then done by Madera County Probation where the inmates are notified how the youth are doing since their visit to the prison.