By Jeanna MacIlvaine, Parole Services Associate
Kern Valley State Prison

Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) celebrated the first substance-use disorder treatment (SUDT) graduating class on July 13.  The graduation was held in the Facility D Visiting with two separate ceremonies for the 41 inmate graduates.

The keynote speaker Danielle Gonzales, Supervising Counselor, introduced and welcomed staff and acknowledged visitors.  An overview of what had been learned over the five months in the SUDT program was relayed by Counselors T. Montez, A. Sanchez, R. Cruz, T. Hines and B. Barba.

The guest speaker, Danny Morrison, on-air personality and columnist, motivated the inmates with his presentation of his experiences and the changes people need to make in order to survive out of the recidivism circle.

Morrison also presented a two-minute video labeled, Self-Destruction 2.0 #howlong, which captured not only the inmates’ attention but also the families and staff.  Afterward, Counselors T. Montez, R. Cruz, A. Sanchez, T. Hines, and B. Barba presented the SUDT certificates to the graduates from their individual classes and each counselor said a few encouraging words of each inmate as they received their certificate.

Inmates in the SUDT program were offered the opportunity to speak to encourage a positive rehabilitative attitude for their graduating class. Inmate speakers recited self-authored poems of the SUDT experience, recited letters of support to their newfound SUDT family and gratitude to the counselors who helped them through to this point.

Twenty family members attended the ceremonies. The inmates and their family members were allowed a short visit, refreshments and a keepsake photograph of their family and the inmate with their certificate, cap and gown.

KVSP Warden Christian Pfeiffer and his executive staff have fully supported the SUDT program.