Inmate job training program pushed by Coachella Valley assemblyman signed by Gov. Brown

COACHELLA – A Coachella Valley lawmaker’s bill to establish a mentorship and job training program for jail inmates in seven California counties is now law.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 683 on Monday. The bill by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, authorizes the implementation of inmate reentry pilot programs in Riverside, Alameda, Imperial, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Clara and San Joaquin counties to provide job training and technical education to newly released or soon-to-be released county jail inmates.

“I want to thank the legislature and Gov. Brown for their support,” said Garcia, who said his bill “seeks to rectify social and systemic barriers facing incarcerated and previously incarcerated men and women.”

“To reduce recidivism, it is essential to employ restorative justice programs and build bridges towards reconciliation and healthy family relationships,” he said. “Studies show that this type of work is key both to improving post release outcomes as well as drastically improving the trajectory for children of the incarcerated.”

Coachella Mayor Steven Hernandez praised the bill.

“Programs like support services for parents or a mentorship program can go a long way to breaking cycles of incarceration within families,” he said.

“The city looks forward to seeing what type of pilot programs are developed at the county level and how they affect recidivism locally and countywide.”

The bill requires that one or more pilot programs be implemented in each county, with an evaluation on the programs’ effectiveness to be submitted to the legislature on or before the start of 2023.

Hector Sanchez-Flores, executive director of the National Compadres Network, the bill’s chief sponsor, said AB 683 “will create a culturally centered and healing informed strategy to help men transition back into the lives of their children in a healthy manner, and support reintegration of the families from which they were separated.”

Bea Gonzalez, district coordinator for the Coachella Valley Unified School District’s After School Education and Safety program, called it “an amazing opportunity to support our community members by providing a true re- entry program. We have two things to focus on in our community; preventing our students from entering the school to prison pipeline and restoring those who have lost their sacred purpose.”

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