By J. Vasquez, G. Bojorquez and A. Castro
Avenal SP inmates

The Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) founder and President Scott Budnick, ARC Co-founder James Anderson, and ARC member, William Lopez recently reached out to inmates at Avenal State Prison (ASP) in an effort to inspire hope and positive change.

From left, Lt. D. Snell, Warden Rosemary Ndoh and ARC founder Scott Budnick.

Scott Budnick is better known as executive producer of many successful comedies, including the highest grossing R-rated comedies in history, the “Hangover” series.

Today, Budnick and the ARC organization fiercely advocates for a fairer criminal justice system while helping formerly incarcerated men and women successfully reintegrate back into their communities. ARC is a powerful support network that provides transitional housing, counseling services and employment opportunities for parolees.

ARC is based in Los Angeles, but has recently expanded its network to Sacramento, San Francisco, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. The ARC also hosts mentoring workshops in California prisons to provide incarcerated men and women with tools and strategies to become positive influences to young people entering adult prison.

While at ASP, Budnick took the time to visit the inmates who are participating in the Substance Abuse Program (SAP) on Facility D, the men in the Youthful Offender Program on Facility F, the art and music programs on Facility B, as well as individual inmates on Facility A and C.

He explained how he got involved in advocating for change and the reformation of many of the laws which led to mass incarceration and long-term prison sentences, which led to  over-crowding in our county jails and in prisons throughout California. Since then, Gov. Brown, legislators, and CDCR have shifted policies away from long-term incarceration, to policies which focus on rehabilitation, improving public safety and outcomes for former inmates.

Once we got past marveling over Budnick’s accomplishments in Hollywood and Sacramento, we began paying attention to his actions. We noticed how he not only talks about showing up, he actually shows up.

By simply showing up, half of the battle of inspiring change in us all is won. ARC’s fight for prison reform grows stronger by gaining more people to have their voices heard – more evidence for Sacramento on why reforming our prison system is necessary.

Many times in life, we find ourselves missing opportunities because we didn’t show up, instead choosing distractions that impair our thinking over opportunities that will better our lives.

We would like to thank Scott, Anderson and Lopez for not only telling us that showing up is important, but for making time for us and actually showing up themselves. Now the ball is in our court to choose to do right in addition to just showing up.

Budnick wrote to the Public Information Officer and stated: “Me and the ARC team were blown away by the progressive vision of the Warden and her leadership team, and all the programming opportunities happening at Avenal. There was a sense of HOPE in the air, and a culture among many staff that saw the men inside as valuable members of a community, worthy of redemption and a real chance at freedom and success. I look forward to my next visit, and for a greater ARC partnership with Avenal.”