Story and photos By Karette Fussell, PIO
Ventura Youth Correctional Facility

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of a two-part series highlighting recent Integrated Behavioral Treatment Model (IBTM) practices at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility (VYCF). The overarching objective of rehabilitation is to make California safer. By providing the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills and to reinforce better decision making with positive reinforcement during incarceration, the IBTM elevates the rehabilitation of youthful offenders to a higher level of receptivity resulting in intrinsic change.

Education and innovation are essential to providing the foundation for future success of incarcerated people serving their time with CDCR.

On June 22, over 51 youth of VYCF and Mary B. Perry High School participated in a special graduation ceremony, earning diplomas or GED certificates for completion of their high school course work through the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).

The day’s theme, “Soaring to Success through Education” was emphasized in student speeches and in the reception following the ceremony.

Guest Speakers included formerly incarcerated youth Miguel Garcia, Los Angeles Rams Head of Community and Football Engagement Johnathan Franklin and DJJ Superintendent of Education Troy Fennel, who confirmed the diplomas.

A month later, one of Ventura’s most innovative programs took another big step toward historic growth. On July 18, CDCR hosted its first ever video conference mentorship event between incarcerated adults and youth, via the Computer Coding Program and San Quentin State Prison.

Computer Coding is the wave of the future, given the rapid advances and reliance upon computer technology. Because of the rapid and extensive progress in the industry, youth must face and grapple with a future unlike any previous generation.

Ventura Youth Correctional Facility seeks to shore up deficits in access traditionally associated with being incarcerated that lead to barriers preventing youth from learning digital technology, through collaboration with California Prison Industry Authority.

This unique and innovative collaboration between incarcerated adult and youthful offenders is done with adult mentors that are experienced coders and have the unprecedented opportunity to help youthful offenders, in some cases younger versions of themselves, see a future paved by the seemingly limitless possibilities of Coding.

Most of the adult mentors at San Quentin who participated in the video call were close to being paroled and getting ready to embark upon careers afforded them because of their knowledge of Coding.

Ventura youth shared their dreams and aspirations with their adult mentors, who were supportive of the youth and encouraged them to continue to excel. Mentors emphasized the magnitude of the opportunity youth were being given with the Coding Program at this crucial time in their life, how it transcends gender stereotypes and is an integral part of the future.