By Lt. Megan Cherinka, AA/PIO
California Medical Facility

CDCR and the United States Air Force (USAF) have teamed up to create a unique partnership. The Military Assistance Program (MAP) is a diversion program hosted at the California Medical Facility (CMF) in Vacaville. The primary goal of MAP is to inform military participants of the consequences of crime, attempting to prevent military personnel from entering the correctional system.  Inmate facilitators express how immoral behavior led to their incarceration; trying to deter others from making the same mistakes.

Inmates met face-to-face with military service members to help direct the at-risk airmen to a less destructive lifestyle. (File photo)

CMF is located about six miles away from Travis Air Force Base (AFB) in Fairfield. During the MAP event, Airmen get a crash course of the criminal justice process. First, the day begins at Travis AFB, with the Airman reporting directly to the Military Court room, where they are greeted by the bases Judge Advocate General’s Officer. A variety of speakers summarize the court martial process such as the Office of Special Investigations, Security Forces, First Sergeants, and an Airman who has recently received a court martial.  After the events at Travis AFB, the Airmen are brought to CMF to experience the life of an incarcerated person.

Once at CMF, the Airmen are read the CDCR “No Hostage” policy before they enter institutional grounds. Airmen are escorted to a prison cell, where they are left and then greeted by CMF inmates, and then brought to the visiting room where the program is conducted. Most inmate facilitators of MAP are former military Veterans. The inmates paint a picture of what prison life consists of, and the choices they’ve made that led to their incarceration.  The MAP program has shown to be an emotional day for inmates and military members as well.  MAP shows the service members how one bad choice in life can lead to wearing a prison uniform.

Many of the MAP inmate facilitators have been given life sentences, and have been incarcerated for more than most of the Airmen have been alive.  Airmen learn the harsh reality of what prison life can be first hand. A full tour of the facility is given to include the yard, prison cells, worksites, and even a meal in the dining hall.

MAP has been running bi-monthly, since May 2016, with over 100 Airmen experiencing the program. Consistently, participants in the program find it eye-opening and beneficial. Airmen realize that they have a career and a life to be grateful for. Inmate facilitators have said that the program gives them a sense of purpose and a chance to give back. The partnership between CDCR and the USAF strives to reach out to more prisons and bases around the county. If MAP changes the life of at least one service member it has completed its goal.