An East Palo Alto re-entry facility with limited funding reports it is helping to change lives.
“Now I just want to build up the community I once helped destroy as a kid,” said Jose Cabrera, a former gang member who has been incarcerated three times.
People can be referred to the David Lewis Reentry Center only from jail or prison. Funding for the program comes from the state, county, and city, according to a recent Peninsula Press article.
“All I knew is that I didn’t want to go back, but I didn’t know how I was going to do that change. This turned out to be a blessing,” said Cabrera, a public speaker and community worker at the re-entry center.
The program eventually kept Cabrera away from prison and changed his life, according to the article.
The center’s programs include mental health services, drug and alcohol counseling, career development, vocational training, and housing assistance.
All the services offered are under one roof and are available to both parolees and probationers.
“The county provides these services but not a one-stop shop like this. Here you see probation offices and parole offices working together,” said Carlos Morales, interim director of correctional health services for San Mateo County.
The program graduated 61 participants for fall 2016 through the spring 2017 cycle, said Cabrera.
Cabrera and Morales spoke on the limitations of the program. Once the participants complete their parole or probation time, they are gradually removed from the program. The center lacks the resources to keep tabs on them once they leave, noted the article.
“All I knew is that I didn’t want to go back, but I didn’t know how I was going to do that change”
“If you’re not getting locked up, you’re doing good, but you have to be careful. Once you get back on that lifestyle, it changes everything,” Cabrera said. “I want to help everyone who was formerly incarcerated, you know, do what I can. I’m not going to leave my people behind.”
Due to high crime in the East Palo Alto area, the program resources offer the community aid in trying to curb recidivism, noted the article.
“These folks have trauma. We think that no one will give you a shot or an opportunity or a chance. At least, that’s how I used to think,” said Cabrera.
The program is a collaboration between local community leaders, the city of East Palo Alto, and the East Palo Alto Police Department.
The program and its building were named to honor the late community leader David Lewis.