Prison staff, inmates warn of signs of drug-use, gang affiliation
By Lt. Roland Ramon, AA/Public Information Officer
Correctional Training Facility
The Correctional Training Facility (CTF) in Soledad recently hosted the Saving Today’s Youth Seminar for local parents and their children.
The seminar was structured to give parents tools to identify drug use and gang associations within their children as well as help them understand the reasons youths are drawn to such behaviors. As the parents were being educated, their children participated in the institution’s juvenile diversion program titled, “We Care.” There were 40 adults in attendance along with 30 of their juvenile boys ranging in age from 11 to 17 years old.
The May 9 event began by dressing the boys in paper jumpsuits similar to the ones worn by inmates. Mothers secretively shed tears as they saw their boys whisked away by a group of inmates and custody personnel. Parents remained in the facility’s gym where they were educated by staff and inmates.
During the gang course, CTF’s Institutional Gang Investigations (IGI) staff informed the parents about the gangs in the local communities as well as what colors, logos, symbols or numbers they use to identify themselves. In the drug component, parents learned from CTF’s Investigative Services Unit (ISU) Senior Investigator how to identify the most common controlled substances being used by teens, their symptoms of use or side effects and the methods for ingestion or consumption.
Parents then listened to testimonies from a group of inmates known as Life-CYCLE. The inmates shared their personal stories about the triggers in their lives which steered them to gang involvement and experimentation with drugs or alcohol. They also discussed what they felt they were missing in their lives which they found in the gang and drug cultures.
As the parents were being educated, their children were escorted around the institution by a group of inmates and staff. The children were exposed to the realities of prison life by seeing the recreation yard, the housing units and eating the same food served to the inmates. The boys listened to inmates talk about their life choices and the repercussions to those actions, such as being incarcerated for more than 30 years starting at the age of 17.
Later in the day, the boys and their parents were reunited in the prison’s gym. Parents, their children and inmates then gathered into groups and further discussed the lessons learned from the day’s event. Inmates from the We Care and Life-CYCLE groups collaboratively facilitated the group discussions and encouraged dialogue between the boys and their parents.
One mother told the gathering, “This is the best Mother’s Day present I could have ever asked for.”
For more information about the seminar, please contact Capt. Ed Borla at (831) 678-5928.
The Correctional Training Facility opened in 1946, and is designated as a low-medium security institution to provide housing for approximately 5,000 general population inmates. The prison provides academic classes, vocational instruction, a substance abuse program and work programs, including a Prison Industry Authority plant. The Correctional Training Facility employs 1,600 people.