Program at CSP-Corcoran reaches out to at-risk youth

From left, front row, are Associate Warden Dennis Overley, Officer Eriselda Rios, Lieutenant Tony Peterson, Officer Dennis Hicks, Officer Jose LaFontaine, Officer Norberto Gonzalez, Captain Ray Juarez, and Officer Andre Chaplin in the back row.

From left, front row, are Associate Warden Dennis Overley, Officer Eriselda Rios, Lt. Tony Peterson, Officer Dennis Hicks, Officer Jose LaFontaine, Officer Norberto Gonzalez, Capt. Ray Juarez and Officer Andre Chaplin in the back row.

By Lt. Mitchell Godina, AA/Public Information Officer
California State Prison-Corcoran

A group of at-risk youth were recently given a glimpse of incarceration at California State Prison (CSP), Corcoran.

On Wednesday, May 18, a session of Rehabilitating Educating And Creating Hope (REACH) was held at CSP-Corcoran for at-risk youths from the Earlimart Elementary School District and Kern County. The seven youths were accompanied by six chaperons, who included a principal, teachers and custody staff as well as retired Correctional Sgt. Mike Alvarez, who works with at-risk youths throughout Kern County.

Upon arrival at the institution, the participants were given an orientation into the program by the REACH sponsors, appropriately attired and escorted into the prison.

At Facility 3B, the participants were met by 21 REACH inmate facilitators. The facilitators provided stories about the life-changing decisions which resulted in their incarceration. They provided thought-provoking questions, engaged in meaningful dialog and facilitated insight into the consequences of decisions as well as lifestyle choices. They also provided coping skills and alternatives to gang life and criminal behavior.

Initially, the youth participants ranged from sullen to verbally abusive toward staff as well as each other. One participant was very negative and verbally abusive. Throughout the program, this particular young man was very verbal, telling staff at the beginning his goals in life were to become a thug and a drug dealer.

By the end of the program, he said his new goal in life was to become a doctor and work in the medical field. Unprompted, he also stood up and thanked the inmates and apologized to his teacher and principal for the trouble he’s caused them.

Retired Sgt. Alvarez thanked all the inmates and staff involved in the program and said it was obvious to him these inmates have practiced very hard and truly believe in the program’s mission.

“This was one of the best programs I have taken at-risk youths,” he said, pledging to continue to bring more at-risk youths to this program in the future.

Inmates speak to at-risk youth.

Inmates speak to at-risk youth.

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2 Responses

  1. Rose Pacheco Wednesday, June 15, 2016 / 8:57 am

    I am a teacher of at-risk youth I believe that some of my students would benefit from a program like this. Is there one here in Southern California for Riverside County? I would like to set a visit up for our students. Many have this unrealistic idea of prison. They need to know the truth.

  2. Karen Dawson Monday, June 13, 2016 / 3:12 pm

    I think that its great to be able to reach some of these young people. If only one got the message, then it was powerful. Hopefully these young people will choose the right path in life.

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