By Dana Simas, Public Information Officer
As inmates transition to life outside prison walls, many struggle during the readjustment. In CDCR’s Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) Sacramento South-Florin parole office, several parole agents have taken a leading role in helping some of those former inmates break down the barriers to success.
Parole Agents Stan Renzelman and Charlie Cisneros, a combined 35 years with the department, have been recognized for their dedication to helping improve the lives of the parolees assigned them.
Agent Renzelman has been twice named “Top-Referring Agent” recently for getting parolees into the Sacramento Community Based Coalition (SCBC). The SCBC is an unusual collaboration between the Sacramento County Office of Education and CDCR specifically designed for men and women re-entering the community from state prison.
Agent Cisneros has earned “Top-Referring Agent,” as well as several other honorable mentions for his hard work in getting parolees on the right track, many for the first time in their lives.
The SCBC, the only one of its kind in Northern California, offers parolees and their families a one-stop shop for resources, such as classes for GED certificates, substance-abuse treatment, anger management, family reunification, resume writing, job interview skills, and an opportunity to be hired full-time by the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) after completing the program.
“Idle time is bad for parolees,” Agent Renzelman said. “This program gets them education and job training, which helps them, helps their families, and is good for public safety. Most do not violate their parole while involved in this program.”
The program is available to Sacramento-area parolees and involves three phases.
First, the participant must attend classes Monday through Saturday for four hours each day. To maintain eligibility in the program, the participants must have at least 80 percent attendance, be drug-free, volunteer at least 20 hours of community service and not violate parole while in the program.
Some of the courses include a 52-week batterer’s class to help stop the cycle of domestic violence, three- and 18-month driving-under-the-influence courses, and a six-week parenting class that emphasizes family reunification and family involvement in the recovery of the participant.
SCBC also provides sober/transitional living housing to some of the participants. The housing is provided by three subcontractors; Bridges Inc., River City Recovery Center, and House of Integrity. Participating inmates may receive up to five months of free housing as long as they meet the minimum criteria. The length of stay for participants is typically 90 days. A participant’s housing status is reviewed every 45 days to make ensure there is a plan in place to become independent that justifies extensions.
After five months in the program, participants may apply for a job on a CalTrans work crew and potentially earn $10-12 an hour, but they also have to continue attending classes at SCBC. Many participants work for CalTrans from 6:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. and attend classes at SCBC after their full day of work.
“It’s the best thing we have in Sacramento County,” Agent Cisneros said. “I have people who never worked in their lives, but with this program they are showing up to work every day – that’s huge.”
To apply for a CalTrans position, participants are given guidance in resume writing and job interviewing skills, such as how to dress, how to speak, and how to answer the tough questions about their convictions.
The SCBC conducts graduations every six months for participants who have completed all three phases. The last graduation was earlier this month with 13 participants earning their GEDs and another 25 being recognized for completing three of the five GED subject areas.