The parole department in Long Beach started a cleanup program staffed by parolees to help them reintegrate into society, reported the Gazette Newspapers.
“When I first got out I thought everyone was looking at me,” said parolee Starla Richmond. “I thought everyone was going to know.”
Richmond paroled in 2011 after 23 years in prison. She had been in a reintegration program that did not work, she said. It did not address her needs. She was dealing with self-consciousness, according to the article.
The Parole Community Clean Team (PCCT) is modeled after a similar program that has operated in San Francisco for 20 years. It brings together parole officers and parolees in a joint effort to clean up the community’s recreation areas.
The PCCT helps parolees who struggle with negative social skills and self-efficacy, said the February article.
“Research has shown that parolees exposed to community programs oftentimes stay out of jail longer than a parolee having never been exposed to a community program,” said Karen Reed, a parole unit supervisor.
Reed was a part of the San Francisco program and said that her supervisor, Ken Wong, inspired her to make a bigger impact in the community, said the article.
“This approach is designed to change dysfunctional social patterns and restore healthy functioning within the family system,” said Reed. “When a parolee is treated and seen as a team member of the PCCT picking up trash alongside parole agents, it promotes healthy social patterns and promotes restoring healthy functioning within their social networks.”
Participating in the program is voluntary or through remedial sanction, which is when: “a parolee has violated one of his or her parole conditions and the unit finds the parolee is not a danger to the community and a program is better suited for the parolee,” said Reed.
So far 10 parole agents and three parolees have participated in the cleanups.