Donald Ray Debose exercises in the yard at San Quentin State Prison's death row in San Quentin, Calif. Tuesday, August 16, 2016. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

$14.5M awarded to California prison rehabilitation programs

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is donating $14.5 million towards the establishment of 43 rehabilitation programs at 20 adult institutions across the state. Programs that will be funded through the grant will range from those specializing in communication and de-escalation skills, to service dog training, prison gardens, family reunification workshops and computer coding.

The money is part of an Innovative Grant Program (IGP), which was launched in 2015 with $2.5 million given in one-year grants to fund 38 programs at 17 prisons.

“Positive programs help offenders learn important life skills, foster peaceful communication and self-reflection, and contribute to safer prison environments for inmates and staff,” said Jay Virbel, director of CDCR’s Division of Rehabilitative Programs. “Expanding programs to even more prisons, and focusing on our long-term offender population, will enable the state to see even more success in preparing offenders to return home.”

The money will be broken down into $3 million chunks that will be awarded to programs for a three-year period, totaling $9 million. This money is earmarked for prisons that are suffering from a low volunteer turnout, and a lack of not-for-profit organizations running existing programs.

In addition, $5.5 million will be given to one-year programs that specifically serve inmates that are serving long terms or life sentences. Twenty-six individuals and organizations were given money from this pool, and out of this 63 programs will be established at 29 different institutions.

Recipients of the program grants include the Marin Shakespeare CompanyGuiding Rage Into Power (GRIP)Buddhist Pathways Prison ProjectMarley’s Mutts and Prison Yoga Project.

Overall, the new grant will provide funding for 188 programs not previously offered in the prisons they’re serving.

Once the grant money runs out the expectation is that volunteers and “normal prison budgets” will continue to sustain them.

 

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