Former parolee shares the impact of reentry programs

Posted on Dec 16, 2019

Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed 25 bills aimed at setting a path to reform California’s criminal justice system. The bills signed by the Governor will provide more opportunities for parolees throughout California to reenter their community after they are finished serving their sentences.

LCC offers positive pathways to career and educational achievement for young adults, including those with a criminal background. Earlier this year Fresno EOC Local Conservation Corps (LCC) took a trip to Sacramento to share with legislators the importance of vocational opportunities for parolees in their transition back into their community.

Since not all work-based programs accept parolees such as California Conservation Corps, an LCC Corpsmember and former Corpsmember now on staff, were able to share how they’ve been able to succeed on parole after given the opportunity.

“Fresno EOC Local Conservation Corps has accepted parolees for years. If someone has paid their dues to society, we can provide an avenue for them to receive job skills, education and be surrounded by a positive environment,” said Shawn Riggins LCC Director. “It’s what Fresno EOC is about. Over the years, some of our hardest working, and best Corpsmembers have been formerly incarcerated.”  

Paco Ybarra, is an LCC Corpsmember and an example of how programs focused on reentering the workforce make an impact on young adults. After serving nearly a five-year sentence, he left the California Youth Authority with limited career options. While at LCC he’s gained work experience, earned his high school diploma, and sealed his criminal record.

“Since I’ve been at LCC I’ve been able to learn leadership skills and improve my public speaking,” Ybarra said. Leading a tour for Congressman TJ Cox and serving as student body president at LCC’s onsite charter school, YouthBuild Fresno were among a few of his highlights while working towards his high school diploma. He is now attending college classes and plans to pursue a career in construction.

“I hope sharing my experience will help others like me who have a similar background,” Ybarra said. “What I got at LCC was a second chance. No matter how many times I failed they welcomed me into the program and now I’m getting hands-on experience.”

Two LCC Corpsmembers have been previously recognized by the Corps Network as Corpsmembers of the Year and both went through reentry programs. These Corpsmembers were selected from a field of 30,000 young adults.

For young adults, vocational and education-focused programs give parolees not just a fresh start but also an opportunity to be part of a community. LCC is unique because while Corpsmembers are offered paid work experience and can make a positive impact in the community they live in.

“At LCC young adults, are reintegrated back into the community and develop a sense of belonging.” said Riggins. “Through a partnership with the Southwest Policing District of the City of Fresno, our Corpsmembers work alongside police officers as part of the Bringing Broken Neighborhoods Back to Life program. In addition, young adults can also volunteer for events to distribute food through Fresno EOC’s Monthly Food Distributions.”

Fresno EOC’s Local Conservation Corps (LCC) provides young adults, 18-25 years old in Fresno and surrounding communities, opportunities and support that will enable them to work towards achieving their full potential. Learn more about LCC or LCC’s onsite charter school, YouthBuild Fresno or follow Fresno EOC Local Conservation Corps on Facebook.