Ten at-risk youth were given a taste of prison life thanks to 25 inmate volunteers at CSP-Corcoran.

Ten at-risk youth were given a taste of prison life thanks to 25 inmate volunteers at CSP-Corcoran.

Inmate volunteers share stories to help kids avoid incarceration

By Lt. Stephen Babb, AA/Public Information Officer
California State Prison, Corcoran

California State Prison-Corcoran recently hosted at-risk youth from a Tulare County High School on one of its facilities as part of its Rehabilitating Educating And Creating Hope (REACH) program.

REACH provides a structured program at CSP-Corcoran for all juveniles in surrounding counties.  Participating juveniles are referred by school district offices, mentoring programs such as the Boys & Girls Club, community youth groups or probation departments.

Juveniles must be carefully screened by their school faculty, administration or organization. A participating juvenile must have shown a propensity for juvenile delinquent type of behavior such as detention, fighting, vandalism, truancy, gang association, drug use, etc., as identified by the referral agency.

The REACH program helps at risk youth re-direct their lives by volunteer inmates sharing their stories with the youth. The volunteers 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 10 youth were given a tour of the facility including a housing unit, gymnasium, recreational yard and dining hall, where they had a state lunch with staff and the 25 inmate volunteers. The youth heard speeches and stories from the inmate volunteers about how their bad decisions have affected their lives and the lives of their loved ones. 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.

Inmates spoke of the poor choices that landed them behind bars, hoping to give the youth some insight into their possible futures if they continue on the same path.

Inmates spoke of the poor choices that landed them behind bars, hoping to give the youth some insight into their possible futures if they continue on the same path.