A watchdog group from Oakland is sponsoring a reentry program for men ages 19 to 30 who are currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison and Santa Rita Jail.
The organization named PUEBLO is a police watchdog and advocacy organization that also operates youth projects such as Alameda County’s Highway to Work programs and the Youth Urban Harvest, according to Pamela Drake of the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center.
PUEBLO is expanding its offerings with the award of a contract from the Alameda County Mental Health Department with funding from Assembly Bill 109, designed to assist formerly incarcerated young men, Drake said.
This new approach to reentry will focus on practical ways to seek employment and housing while assisting with other social service needs. Other program services, which include mental health, family relations and restorative justice, are designed for “both the community and the formerly incarcerated,” Drake said.
The organization’s programs provide Balancing the Inner and Outer (BIO) support with an integrated holistic approach combined with skilled training, enterprise development and mentorship.
The programs are designed to address trauma, “helping released individuals repair the harm they have caused and establishing productive relationships with their community,” according to the Innovations in Reentry website.
“We’ve been operating 11 years without
support from government agencies
because its funding mechanisms
are too rigid and restrictive”
One key component of BIO’s program is focusing on the damage and harm caused by these young men’s criminal behavior so that they may have “productive relationships with their community,” Drake said.
The director of this new project is Isaac Taggart, who was the reentry coordinator under former Oakland Mayor Ron Dellum, Drake said.
“He is in the process of developing an intake structure at San Quentin and Santa Rita so that PUEBLO’s client will be able to seamlessly reintegrate into the support this program provides,” Drake said. Taggart’s advocacy experience working with disenfranchised youth in Oakland will be an enormous asset to the new organization, Drake added.
His background and experience as an independent bookstore operator and activist in Oakland gives him creditability to reach out to other businesses in the community to find jobs for his clients, she said.
“Our program services focus on reentry throughout the state,” said Allyson West, executive director of the California Reentry Program, another reentry program at San Quentin. Her organization provides services in career advice, college, financial aid, substance abuse treatment, employment, housing referrals and child support exclusively for San Quentin inmates of all ages.
PUEBLO’s new program platform will concentrate on reentry of men in Alameda County only.
“We’ve been operating 11 years without support from government agencies because its funding mechanisms are too rigid and restrictive,” West said. Her nonprofit organization raises money the old-fashioned way: The California Reentry Program writes grants and solicits contributions from private foundations and donations from private individuals.
The California Reentry Program meets every Tuesday and Thursday. “We are looking forward to working with PUEBLO wherever they get set up here at San Quentin,” West said.