PROGRAM HEAD LISTS PRIORITIES
Six months after the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) announced plans to cut $250 million from the educational, vocational, treatment and other rehabilitative programs, the full effects have yet to be felt.
“Unfortunately, we were forced to cut some programs,” said the director of the Division of Adult Rehabilitative programs, Cynthia Florez-DeLyon, during an April 16 visit to San Quentin. Current policy calls for extracting a higher level of efficiency from the remaining programs and stabilizing the new educational models.
The new models call for three-hour classroom shifts that cycle more inmates through the programs. Current plans also call for increased reliance on community volunteers, paid inmate tutors and increasing the number of volunteer inmate tutors. According to Florez-DeLyon, the next year will likely involve working around unforeseen bugs and making modifications where necessary.
Florez-DeLyon outlined the state’s protocols for cutting vocational programs. Relying on a strict set of criteria purported to reveal the most effective programs, CDCR will look at whether a program possessed a standardized curriculum, whether it could be completed in 12 months, and whether it would result in a living wage for released prisoners.
In a May, 2001 study by the Washington State Institute on Public Policy (WSIPP), vocational programs were shown to be among the most effective programs at reducing recidivism and costs. Florez-DeLyon acknowledged the potential of vocational programming. “These (programs) were the hardest to cut, “ she said. Results indicate that slightly more than half of the state’s vocational classes were eliminated.
Department officials recognize the success of San Quentin’s programs. “San Quentin uses a model that we would like to replicate in other institutions,” said Florez-DeLyon. San Quentin has the highest rate of community involvement. From tutors driving in from Berkeley to help out in various education classes, to the men and women of the Prison University Project, to those who facilitate anger management and Victim Offender Education Groups, San Quentin remains at the vanguard of successful rehabilitative programs.
“There is no other place in the state (prison system) where I can earn a college diploma in a real classroom, and participate in groups that allow me to understand and begin to atone for all the pain and suffering I have caused,” said a graying but still vibrant Lifer.
Florez-DeLyon started her career in the California Youth Authority before receiving the nod to oversee the Division of Adult Programs. Her responsibilities include the Office of Correctional Education, Substance Abuse Programs and the Office of Community Partnerships.