Goal is to help them stay free of drugs, crime

By Dana Simas, Public Information Officer I | OPEC

More than 60 at-risk youth from Los Angeles, Riverside, Antelope, and San Bernardino school districts were given an opportunity to learn a little about themselves as well as the consequences for making bad decisions at the Third Annual Children’s Conference in Ontario.

CDCR’s Female Offender Programs and Services, along with the Association of Black Correctional Workers (ABCW) and Continuing the Dream, a non-profit organization, joined together in April to offer a life- and decision-making skills class to youth ages 12-17.

At the conference, the youth were provided breakfast, lunch, entertainment, and prizes along with four workshops each focusing on a different life skill. One was “Choices Have Consequences” in which inmates communicated with the students via live stream from Folsom State Prison (FSP), California Rehabilitation Center (CRC), and California Institution for Women (CIW) to describe how their life choices lead to their incarceration.

 Another workshop was “Stop, Look, and Listen,” taught by CIW staff. The youth went through what they need to know if stopped by law enforcement. A gang-awareness workshop taught by staff from CRC and an anger-management course were also available.

The keynote speaker at the conference was Dr. Renford Reese, a professor at California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly), Pomona.  Reese is involved in several CDCR-related activities, including a college program in which Cal Poly, Pomona students teach weekly college courses to inmates at the California Institution for Men.

The conference was funded through various inmate organizations and charity fund drives. Overall, CDCR inmates at FSP, CIW, CRC, Calipatria State Prison, California Correctional Institution, Kern Valley State Prison, California Medical Facility, Mule Creek State Prison, California Training Facility, California Correctional Center, Avenal State Prison (ASP),  and Central California Women’s Facility donated $14,705 to fund the conference.