By Lt. Kevin Huffman, AA/PIO
California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison
It was a warm sunny day in the Central Valley and radiant smiles came to incarcerated loved ones when they were greeted by their families thanks to the Get on the Bus (GOTB) program making a stop at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison (CSATF/SP).
Alfredo Lopez Jr., new to the correctional system, was provided with his first opportunity to reunite with his family after almost four years. Being incarcerated, Lopez took advantage of this great opportunity at no expense to his family.
“I never had a visit. I have not had a visit in four years with my children. GOTB made it possible; hopefully I will be able to do it again. My children had asked me when they could do it again; they wanted to come back already. Staff was awesome! Correctional staff and the GOTB staff did not bother us. Pictures were taken, we played games and they made us smile.” said Lopez.
From playing card and board games to creating art work and conversing over a provided lunch, each individual gathering shared a unique experience.
“Oftentimes children are faced with a host of separation issues due to a parent being incarcerated. GOTB is a program that allows inmates to bond with their children for several hours where all needs are handled. The Center for Restorative Justice Works arranges transportation to and from the prison, entertainment for the children as well as meals with no out-of-pocket cost to the family. It is a remarkable opportunity for families to reconnect their children with incarcerated loved ones.” said Community Resource Manager J. Moore.
GOTB is a partnership of CDCR and the Center for Restorative Justice Works (CRJW), a Los Angeles-based nonprofit serving those affected by the criminal justice system. GOTB began 17 years ago at Central California Women’s Facility, after Sister Suzanne Jabro of St. Joseph of Carondelet visited the prison to speak with women about what they needed, and they overwhelmingly voiced their desire to spend more time with their children.
Thanks to an innovative grant, Executive Director Lupe Rivera and Program Director Walter Hammond broke ground with GOTB program at CSATF/SP and CSATF/SP will be motivated for its return.