By Parole Agent III Douglas Broome, Parole Agent II Jennifer Barnes and Tom Quintana of the South Bay Workforce Investment Board

Parole Agents from CDCR’s Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) in partnership with the South Bay Workforce Investment Board/America’s Job Center of California and the City of Inglewood continue to advocate for fair chance hiring of the former inmates by hosting their second Career Pathways 180 Re-entry job preparation workshop and fair last month.

Actor Danny Trejo, left, awaits chance to give pep talk to former inmates. Also waiting to speak are Inglewood City Council Member Alex Padilla; and Enrique Gonzales, DAPO Chief Deputy Regional Administrator.

Forty-one formerly incarcerated individuals participated in this week-long job preparation and workshop.

The DAPO agents were from the Los Angeles Central Parole District (LACPD). For approximately two and half years, LACPD has worked with elected officials and community stakeholders to secure pathways to permanent employment and this event marked the fifth such event.

With each job preparation workshop and job fair, LACPD focuses its efforts on the following:

  • Beginning each day with a motivational speaker
  • Developing focused lesson plans that emphasize the importance of “soft skills”
  • Providing business attire, networking and developing relationships with felon friendly employers
  • Having an actual graduation ceremony for the participants and their families
  • Securing free cellphones through the Lifeline Assistance Obama Phone program for all eligible graduates.

During the week, several participants were hired by employers.

Alex Padilla, Inglewood City Councilman, CDCR Chief Deputy Regional Administrator Enrique Gonzalez, CDCR Parole Administrator Vincent Thompson, and Heather Hutt, Southern California Deputy Director for U.S. Senator Kamala Harris spoke at the graduation ceremony. All speakers shared stories and words of encouragement and empowerment.

Actor Danny Trejo, one of the guest speakers, recounted how he, upon his release from San Quentin, decided to make better decisions and choices different than the ones that led to his incarceration. He said his decision to help others is what ultimately led him to becoming an actor.

Trejo said as an AA/NA sponsor, he helped another member who needed emotional support and who was having thoughts of relapsing. After receiving a telephone call from the member, he met him at a warehouse.

The warehouse turned out to be a set for the movie “Runaway Train.” While there, he was offered a job as an extra in the film’s prison scenes.

Trejo was then recognized by the movie’s screenwriter, who was also formerly incarcerated.  The screen writer, remembering that Trejo was a boxer in prison, offered him a job to train Eric Roberts, one of the stars of the movie, for a boxing scene.

The director of the movie, liking Trejo, decided to give him a role in the movie as a boxer. Trejo attributes his success and continued success beyond incarceration to his conscious decision to make better choices, to become a better person, and to help others.