Santa Clara County Office of Reentry Services - Winter 2017 Newsletter
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Who We Are
Office of Reentry Services
The Office of Reentry Services (ORS), within the Office of the County Executive, promotes effective policies, evidence-based practices and services to implement the Public Safety Realignment Program (AB 109) and the Adult Reentry Strategic Plan. The ORS is responsible for operating the Santa Clara County Reentry Resource Center and coordinates countywide efforts to reduce recidivism and ensure public safety. The ORS programming oversight includes the Parolee Reentry Services, Community Adult Reentry Services, the In-Custody Adult Reentry Services, and Transition/Discharge Planning.
Reentry Resource Center
Our mission at the Reentry Resource Center is to reduce recidivism by using evidence-based practices and implementing a seamless system of services, support and supervision. The Reentry Resource Center offers a variety of services to formerly incarcerated Santa Clara County residents supporting the County reentry efforts and building a safer community.

Office of Reentry - Growing Programs in 2017

On February 23 from 4:30 to 6:30 PM the Reentry Resource Center will hold its Five-Year Celebration. The Center has grown to include the services of an expansive network of providers from faith-based community support to housing, mental health and substance abuse treatment, education, employment, healthcare and much more. In 2017 we will continue growing the many support systems and opportunities we offer to individuals both in custody and out.

Part of that growth includes new facilities in Gilroy for the South County Reentry Resource Center office early in the year.  The new location will be more accessible to clients and the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center’s Valley Homeless Healthcare Program will soon serve the center with its Medical Mobile Unit.
Staff at the Reentry Resource Center in San Jose
Collaborations with community partners are blossoming. This summer a local college plans to offer RRC clients an Alcohol and Drug Studies course to prepare them for potential peer mentor and rehabilitation counselor positions with Santa Clara County. And San Jose State University plans to build on the six classes it offered in-custody at Elmwood jail this year to include math and English and other fundamental courses required for graduation.

In November of 2016 the Faith-Based programs division of the RRC transitioned from an innovation project to an ongoing County behavior health program. The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has approved two new behavioral health peer support positions to help connect clients both in custody and out with faith-based providers to help them navigate their reintegration into the community.
Stay tuned for news of more innovative programs as we move into a new year of opportunity for expanding support systems and developing launching pads for clients at the Reentry Resource Center.
Reentry Resource Center Five-Year Anniversary Celebration!

  Feb. 23, 2017 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM
        Open House & light refreshments

       Santa Clara County Reentry Resource Center
    151 West Mission Street
  San Jose, CA 95110
Keynote Speaker
Former Chaplin of San Quentin State Prison
Reverend Earl Smith

Team Chaplin for the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco 49ers

      Author of Death Row Chaplain: Unbelievable True Stories from America’s Most Notorious Prison

Please RSVP to Lynn Madden
(408) 535-4277

South County Reentry Resource Services Expanding

Since its opening in April of 2015 the South County satellite Reentry Resource Center (RRC) has significantly grown its services and community partnerships and is preparing to move to a new location in Gilroy early 2017.

In 2015 the Santa Clara County Office of Reentry Services (ORS) launched the San Martin site in collaboration with public safety partners in Gilroy, San Martin and Morgan Hill. The goal is to help reduce the high reconviction rates of offenders in these areas by offering nearby services to assist them with basic necessities to successfully reintegrate into their communities. The center helps Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Martin residents who were released under AB109 supervision, and clients who are on formal probation, with employment, mental health and substance abuse assessments, probation support, social services and record clearance.

One of the center’s newest additions is Laz Rios, with Cathedral of Faith’s Good Samaritan Project, one of the Center’s faith-based partners. Rios helps connect clients to housing, if they are eligible, as well as to resources to pay for domestic violence classes, motor vehicle tickets, bus tokens and to resources for clothes, food and hygiene needs.

Employment is also crucial for keeping people from continuously cycling through the criminal justice system. Through a partnership with Catholic Charities, Felisa Legaspi, a case manager at the South County Reentry Resource Center, assists clients with writing resumes, preparing them for interviews and connecting them to employers who are open to hiring people who have some involvement with the criminal justice system.

Helping to clear those records is the goal of the Santa Clara County Public Defender office. They meet monthly at the SCRRC to assist clients in navigating that often complicated process.

Some of the biggest barriers to getting the help people need is simply knowing about available services and having the ability to get to them. Amy Flores, a Santa Clara County Deputy Probation Officer with the High Risk Offender Unit, has started meeting some of her clients at the South County Reentry Center office to make the transition to services even more accessible since most of her clients are homeless and don’t drive, she said.

“It’s a more intimate setting providing them the opportunity to connect with RRC staff on an individual basis,” Flores said. “And it’s close to home.”

Many clients have difficulty getting their lives back on track because they can’t get their driver license reinstated due to outstanding traffic tickets or payments for other violations. Staff help clients, including those with no proof of legal presence, apply for discounts through the traffic amnesty and license reinstatement programs.  RRC representatives do outreach at Santa Clara County courthouses to offer these services and spread the news about the Reentry Centers.

Leah Ezeoha, Probation’s Program Manager – Resource Specialist at the Center, helps connect clients to community-based resources. Ezeoha and other staff have helped forge partnerships with the California Department of Rehabilitation and Gilroy’s Gavilan College. Gavilan will offer a free Career and Personal Development class teaching interview skills, effective communication, and financial literacy at the new South County Resource Center when it opens in early 2017, Ezeoha said.  And Santa Clara Valley Medical Center’s Valley Homeless Healthcare Program will soon serve the center with its Medical Mobile Unit.

The South County center has come a long way since launching its pilot program less than two years ago. The overwhelming county and city support for the center and its ability to collaborate with community-based providers to expand services will change lives for the better and make our communities safer. 

Students Excel in In-Custody College Courses

Students at the Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas completed the first round of college courses offered by San Jose State University (SJSU) on Monday, December 12, 2016. Seventeen men passed the Introduction to Kinesiology course and 14 women passed the Justice Studies – Record Clearance Project: Practical Legal Skills course. Students attended class twice a week for 12 weeks, plus study hall and workshops for additional support.

The Kinesiology course introduced the men to the philosophy, history, and sociology of physical activity; sport and exercise psychology and the biomechanics and physiology of physical activity. The course covered careers in health and fitness, therapeutic exercise and teaching, coaching and sport instruction, plus sport management. In addition to course readings, students took weekly quizzes, a mid-term and final exam, plus gave a group presentation. In a resume workshop, students identified their personality characteristics and skills in preparation for seeking employment.

“Going in, I did not know what to expect. I was ecstatic to see how many of the students wanted to better themselves,” said Arman Medina, Kinesiology Lecturer at SJSU. I was impressed with how smart they all were. They all worked very hard.” Medina taught the in-custody course with the assistance of SJSU instructional student assistant, Julius Passion.
Elmwood Inmates celebrate completion of their SJSU Introduction to Kinesiology course.
The Practical Legal Skills class prepared students to help people clear criminal convictions from their records. Beginning with reading statutes to determine legal eligibility for dismissal of convictions and reduction of felonies, students also learned and practiced legal interviewing and writing skills necessary to complete court paperwork for a client seeking expungement. Students learned to give community presentations on expungement law, and practiced course skills in hands-on workshops. Guest speakers included people who had their records cleared and a judge who spoke on courtroom protocol. 

"We asked students how the class could be improved. They suggested: more homework and have class meet every day. A teacher's dream!" said Peggy Stevenson, director of the SJSU Record Clearance Project. "I was impressed with the dedication, discipline and mutual support that the students demonstrated on a daily basis." Stevenson co-taught the course with Nishtha Jolly, MS, with assistance from Anahi Beltran, Nina Bernardini and Zulema Pimentel-Licea.

Elmwood inmates celebrate completion of their SJSU Record Clearance Project: Practical Legal Skills course. 
Many of the students have considered continuing their education at community colleges and four-year universities, including master’s degree programs. Over 50 students applied for financial aid by completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form.

Michele Burns, In-Custody Educational Services Director, San Jose State University (SJSU)

Peggy Stevenson, SJSU lecturer and Director of the SJSU Record Clearance Project
By the Numbers
Total unique clients seen at the Reentry Resource Center (RRC) in 2016: 4,558
Housing status of Reentry Resource Center clients at intake
Clients with permanent housing: 24%
Clients without permanent housing 76%
(This statistic based on 3,985 respondents to our survey)

Employment Status
64% of clients who visited the RRC in 2016 were unemployed and looking for work.

Education Level
34% of clients who visited the RRC in 2016 did not have a high school diploma/GED at intake.

Top Service Requests from RRC Clients in 2016
Service Client Requests
General Assistance: 2,433
Food Stamps / Cal Fresh Food assistance: 2,382
Peer mentor support: 1,361
Healthcare coverage / Medi-Cal: 1,356
Housing: 1,299

Source: Santa Clara County Reentry Resource Center

Building a New Foundation

Goodwill of Silicon Valley’s New Opportunity Work Program (NOW) offers job readiness, paid on-the-job experience, and job placement for reentry clients. The duration of the on-site portion of the program ranges from 30 to 90 days and once clients are placed, participants are provided support for up to one year after placement into regular employment. When a participant begins the program, they are individually assessed for paid on-the-job training placement on site at Goodwill. Based on their work history or future career goals clients have many employment opportunities such as warehouse, shipping and receiving, kitting and packaging, administrative, sorting, mattress dismantling, e-commerce, and our construction program – Train2Work.
Goodwill and the Department of Labor have partnered to create Train2Work, a 16- week program providing hands-on and classroom training with all the certifications and tools needed to succeed in the Laborers Union. During the program, participants earn the following certifications: OSHA 10, OSHA 30, Flagging, CPR, Confined Space, and HAZWOPER. Along with certificates, they learn many labor trades such as concrete pouring, brick laying, operation of heavy machinery, and basic building techniques. Goodwill also purchases each student training apparel and work boots, an intermediate set of tools, transportation, and pays for their union dues. The cost of all that averages $7,500 per person and our participants receive it for free. Instructors for this program are provided by our partners at JobTrain, a nonprofit educational and training institution.

Participants in Train2Work are part of the NOW Program. They are paid 20 hours a week for 90 days and participate in all of the job readiness aspects of the NOW Program. Near the end of their training, they receive support from NOW business developers and a career development specialist from JobTrain to connect them to the union or non-union employer they are interested in. And NOW Peer Mentors provide support for job retention.
This program has been life changing for our participants.
“This construction program has given me another chance – a chance to redeem my life from my past. It has given me an opportunity to build my life back. Just like construction, I am building a new foundation thanks to the NOW Program and JobTrain through CASU.” – James Gatchalian

Shelby Mason, New Opportunity Work Program Director of Reentry Programs

Giving Back - Employment Peer Mentor

William Couch Jr, Senior Peer Mentor
New Opportunity Work Program (NOW) at Goodwill of Silicon Valley

My name is William Couch Jr and I am the Senior Peer Mentor for the New Opportunity Work Program (NOW) at Goodwill of Silicon Valley. I have the privilege of mentoring our job seekers in navigating through all the barriers they may have to obtaining steady employment. I was once myself in the same place, struggling with life issues and not knowing where to go or who to ask for help -  wishing I had a mentor to help guide me in the right direction instead of being stuck in the same, unhealthy cycle of bad decisions that was keeping me from getting my life back on the right track.
I’ve been through traumatic life events that I wish nobody would ever have to face.  Unfortunately, it took me losing my daughter, Mariah, in a house fire on April 15, 2013 to open my eyes and start this new, healthy journey in which I am determined to succeed and grow.  I am blessed today to use my life experiences as a way to give back and mentor anybody I can by helping them get through challenges that they may be facing. I am here to offer support and be that someone who our program participants can go to and trust with any personal or professional issues that they may have. They all know that I am here to listen when they need someone to vent to and I am here to provide un-biased advice when asked or even when I sense that it may be needed.
Our main goal is to help individuals get employed and teach them how to keep their jobs. One thing I do daily is monitor job retention by following up to see how they are doing, what short-term goals they are working on, and if there are resources that, as their mentor, I can support them with to stay employed. When some individuals find themselves struggling with relapse or even unemployed, I continue to provide mentorship and support when needed.
I look forward to continuing my journey as a Peer Mentor and keeping the passion of the work I do here at Goodwill and with the Faith-Based Collaborative at the Reentry Center. Being able to help, give advice and be a role model, and even being that person who could help someone make it another 24 hours is priceless. It is what keeps me going every day and loving the work I do. 

Reentry Center - A Stepping Stone to Success

Seth Mixon
Seth Mixon felt like an outsider as a kid. He was bullied and never really fit in. He joined the football team his junior year in high school and things rapidly changed. But the crowd he was hanging with led him into drug and alcohol abuse.

“They became my king and queen for 20 years,” Mixon said. He started selling drugs and growing pot in Florida, where he grew up. By age 20 he had numerous arrests for drug possession and driving under the influence and many other charges over the next 10 years. After a 2005 arrest in Florida for cultivating marijuana, Mixon spent six months in the Orlando Bridge Community Release Center where he participated in a work study program earning an associate degree in computer engineering.

That landed him a job in New York. In 2008 he got married and moved there but quickly relapsed. So he and his wife moved back to Florida in 2009, where he took advantage of the medical marijuana program in California to sell his product. He moved to California in 2010 and began exporting to Florida. The day the S.W.A.T. team stormed his house in December of 2012 was a turning point for Mixon. The pain of seeing a machine gun pointed at his wife changed something in him, he said.

He was given a three-year sentence and sent to Elmwood Correctional Facility in San Jose. After 28 days he was released into the Custody Alternative Supervision Unit (CASU). Participants in that program are released into the community under supervision of rehabilitation officers and deputies of the Sheriff’s Office. CASU participants can then access substance abuse treatment, health and behavioral health services, housing, food, education and employment assistance.

Through the Santa Clara County Reentry Resource Center, Mixon got a job with Goodwill of Silicon Valley’s New Opportunity Work Program (NOW). NOW is funded by the Santa Clara County Office of Reentry Services and the California Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

In addition to offering 90 days of paid employment in warehouse, manufacturing, administrative, information technology and auto detailing, among other areas, NOW participants get an employment case manager, assistance in resume writing, interview skills, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

“Seven out of 10 people get jobs outside of Goodwill,” when they finish the program, said Shelby Mason, NOW’s Program Director.

Mixon also received substance abuse help from the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program. He was given a position working with program management software at Goodwill and helped the company deploy a new system for keeping track of program participants with software from CaseWorthy Inc., a social services technology company.

“I cannot overemphasize how blessed I was to work with these folks at Goodwill and CaseWorthy,” Mixon said.

With the skills he acquired at Goodwill he landed a position as director of the commercial sales division with Gardening Unlimited for nearly two years where he developed many of their business processes and salesforce commission program. And in in October of 2016 he became operations manager for Mills Nutrients USA and he and his wife moved to Long Beach. He’s still involved in Alcoholics Anonymous, has a sponsor and sponsors other men in the program.

“It’s not all about me,” he said.  Mixon noted that he learned how valuable it is to put others before himself. He discovered the value of humility and the importance of asking for help.  He no longer shoulders the challenges of life on his own. Mixon said he’s extremely grateful for the opportunities extended to him through the Reentry Resource Center and Goodwill.

“They taught me to work and how to do the next right thing and it paid off for me and still does today,” he said. He urges people reentering their communities after being in custody to reach out to the amazing staff and services available to them.
Donation Wish List - Men's Clothes Wanted!

The Reentry Resource Center is seeking clothes donations for our male clients. Do you have gently-used clothes you wish to donate? We are in need of the following items:
  • Hygiene kits
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Men’s deodorant
  • Shaving supplies
  • Reading glasses
  • Mouthwash
  • Bars of soap
  • New hair brushes and combs
  • Men’s coats
  • Men’s t-shirts
  • Men’s clothing
  • Men’s shoes, especially tennis shoes (sizes 10.5 and up)
  • New packages of men’s underwear
  • New men’s socks
Please bring donations to the Reentry Resource Center
151 Mission St., San Jose 95110

Thank you for your generosity!
Copyright © 2017 County of Santa Clara Office of Reentry Services, All rights reserved.

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