Inmates second chance

EL CENTRO, Calif.- A selected number of Imperial County jail inmates began their first day at a course that offers them services they can use in building a life outside of bars. Fourteen inmates sat and paid close attention to what their instructors had to say on their first day of class.

Imperial Valley Regional Occupational (IVROP) program participates in the one year grant program sponsored by the Second Chance Act. High to medium risk offenders and those with six to eighteen months left to serve, are picked through the Imperial County Sheriff Office to participate in the course. Inmates are offered services such as moral recognition and substance abuse therapy, GED, construction trade, nurturing parenting counseling, as well as job placement upon release. Bonnie Walther IVROP counselor says, this program has been going on for four months now.

“This is our second cycle of participants so we’re really excited about that and we are hoping that they do well.” said Walther.

Their goal is to reduce relapse in the Imperial Valley. Walther says, the valley has about ninety-four percent recidivism. “Our hope is to reduce that number at least to California’s number which is about sixty-percent.”

The courses offered to these inmates are designed to increase their education level and their chance of getting a job once they are out of jail. Inmate Tim Smith says, he heard about these courses from other inmates and hopes to make use of them. “Try to find a job and help out with my son.” Smith said, after I asked him what his plans were once he was released.

Inmate John Plunkett says, he decided to participate because he is familiar with courses like these. “Learning different skills, like I went through R.O.P in high school we did welding and automotive and I really liked it so I came back for this class.”

Instructors say not all inmates who sign up to participate successfully complete the course, but the few that do take a lot from it.

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