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Program Gives Incarcerated Youth A Second Chance

Audio

Aired 10/8/10

Learn about the JOLT Program, which rehabilitates incarcerated youth, and prepares them for release back into the community.

Oscar Martinez, 19, is a graduate of Juveniles' Options for Lifelong Transitions, a program of Second Chance.
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Above: Oscar Martinez, 19, is a graduate of Juveniles' Options for Lifelong Transitions, a program of Second Chance.

Second Chance is a San Diego organization that serves homeless and unemployed men and women. We'll check in with Second Chance Founder, Scott Silverman, to hear how things are going with its latest program, Juveniles' Options for Lifelong Transitions or JOLT, which targets San Diego County's incarcerated youth to prepare them for release back into the community. We'll find out about the hardest part of the transition from life inside a juvenile detention facility to life on the outside and we'll hear from two teen graduates of the JOLT program who are working to turn their lives around.

Guests

Scott Silverman, is executive director and founder of Second Chance.

Oscar Martinez, is a JOLT graduate who now works for Henry's Marketplace.

Sara Chavez, is a JOLT graduate.

Read Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. Amid all the publicity in recent years about juveniles being tried as adults, and young offenders being subject to much harsher penalties than before issue the main focus of juvenile detention remains rehabilitation am even though a teenager has committed serious crimes he or she still has a good chance to turn it around, get a few breaks, and never see the inside of a prison again. The Jolt program is designed to increase the odds of rehabilitation for young offenders. Jolt stands for Juveniles' Options for Lifelong Transitions. It's being administered in San Diego by the Second Chance organization.

Joining me to talk about the program in its first anniversary are my guests. Scott Silverman is executive director and funder of Second Chance. Scott, welcome to the program.

SCOTT SILVERMAN: Maureen, thanks. Nice to be here.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And we have two young members of the Jolt program joining us. Sarah, good morning.

SARAH: Good morning.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Oscar, welcome.

OSCAR: Good morning. How are you doing, Maureen?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm doing great. I'm glad you're both here. Thank you so much for coming in. I want to start with you, Scott, if I could. Tell us about the Jolt program. Give us the nuts and bolts.

SCOTT SILVERMAN: It's gonna be 18 months this October, and one of the things we've learned over the years, through evidence based studies, is the corrections system in our state doesn't work, unlike the pension system that needs to be working, right? So the bottom line is one of the things that we've done through our evidence based outcome studies is we realized that if we can get to a younger customer, if we can get the tools in their hands that create the options and get them back into school and expose them to literacy and financial literacy, family reunification, and the tools to get back in the community in a positive we, we can actually affect systemic change at a much younger level.

And the folks you see here today, they're in their teens, and if they get this and it sticks, the 12 years that they spend in the state prison system is gonna be not existing for them. So we found a way that we think, and so far all the indicators are it's gonna work well, plus giving younger people a chance to be part of the community, if you will, is much more positive than just leaving them alone to continue to do what they've always done.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And I want to know, what is different about this program? Because, I mean, rehabilitation has been tried, and it's supposedly part and parcel of a juvenile detention program to begin with. What is different about this program?

SCOTT SILVERMAN: Well, what we think is unique about it is we use the three pronged approach that we've always used in Second Chance, and that is by giving an individual and dress so they have a safe haven on leaving the institution, if you will, and then giving them the resources, the wrap around resources so they've got some sustainable support and mentoring, if you will, then what happens is the choices they can make are a lot more positive. Because the decision making anxiety that happens once you come out of an institution is very, very complicated.

So we're now working on the inside with young people for nine months, and once they get out, we have a six month commitment right now through mended funding opportunities with the Work Force Partnership and the County Probation Department. So we're trying to find extensive resources along that way so we can make sure that when they get out, they stay out. Because rehab doesn't work on the inside. We've talked about this over the years. When you have an eight hour program every day then you have 16 hours of being in the general population in a facility, whatever you've learned that that day gets contaminated throughout the night. Because young people, like adults, have to survive in institutions, and the custodial staff historically over the years, they're not trained to do rehab. So it requires the partnerships that we have with probation and social service agencies to bring that resource on the inside. But what we've learned is by keeping it seamless and working with them postrelease, we have a much better chance and they have a much better chance. Because when you get out and you don't have a job, you have no ID, and you have no place to live, you're gonna do? What you just learned recently in what I call FU University, which is Failure University, and you're gonna apply those tools and then your crime is gonna increase. And the three strikes in California, that's why we have this overcrowding problem in prison.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You know, I want to remind our listeners that we'd be delighted if they joined the conversation. What do you think about the chances for juvenile offenders being rehabilitated? Is there something about different about a teenager who commits a crime as opposed to an adult? Give us a call with your questions and your comments. Our number is 1 888 895 5727. We're talking specifically about the Jolt program which is part of the Second Chance organization here in San Diego. And I have two young people, young members of the program here, and I want to introduce them again. Sarah, hello.

SARAH: Hello.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How did you get involved with the program?

SARAH: I was involved in the program 'cause I was locked up. I was doing the YOU program. It's a year program, and Second Chance has they were working with the girls in the YOU program.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I see, I see. How old are you, Sarah?

SARAH: I'm 19.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And how long have you been out?

SARAH: I've been out since, like, three months.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. Now, why how did you wind up in detention in the first place? Can you share that story with us?

SARAH: Well, why I got locked up?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Uh huh.

SARAH: I did a battery charge against another person.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I see. And I suppose that was was that a one off, or was it a culmination of people you were hanging out with?

SARAH: It was just one. It was just me and the other person.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, as you tell us what the transition is like once you get out of detention and you want to start, like, a fresh life, and you want to you want to get straight, and you want to stay straight, and you want to stay, you know, within the law. How does Jolt help you do that?

SARAH: How it happened is because I was locked up for a year, I missed my family, I missed everything. So I put my mind set, when I get out, I want to just go straight and do good. And so they were there to help me be on the right track.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And what are you doing now?

SARAH: I'm doing the the Jolt program.

SCOTT SILVERMAN: It's GRT. She gets a chance to do a job training program. We have a specific component right now for young people, which is kind of a spinoff of our four week training we've been doing over all these years. It gives her all the skills to go and get a job, and the interviewing skills, interpersonal skills, how to answer a question. And the life skills. And while she's doing that, she's engaged with all the staff. So when she has those decision making anxieties she can come to her mentors and say, you know, someone's in my neighborhood right now, or I'm not in the same place, and we can make those tweaks to help support her.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And you're working right now, right?

SARAH: I sure I am.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: All right. Well, congratulations.

SARAH: Thank you.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: More later, but I want to talk to Oscar right now. How are you doing, Oscar?

OSCAR: I'm pretty good.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How did you get involved with the Jolt program?

OSCAR: I got involved with the Jolt program well, my name's Oscar Martinez. I'm 19 years old. I've been in the juvenile system since I was 14 years old. I've always been in and out of juvenile system. This last violation I did I got sent to the youthful offender union, or the jolt program, I got a chance to meet them. I graduated when I was in the institution. I had nothing to do. I was a young fellow that didn't know what what to look forward to.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right.

OSCAR: But I got to meet Second Chance stamp, I gave it a chance, you know? I had nowhere to go, nowhere to live. My probation officer didn't want me to go back home. I'm from Oceanside, California, so you know, I grew up in the city. And I guess, I met Second Chance I was part of the Strike program. I'm actually a graduate. I'm class 142, and I'm really excited. I got the chance to be in the internship. I got an internship by Second Chance.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, Oscar, let me ask you, you say you've been in and out of trouble.

OSCAR: Yeah. Yes, yes.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Since you were 14. What makes this different? What makes this time different?

OSCAR: It's different. Well, actually, it's the people I work with that help. When I was younger, you know, you didn't get help. We get help, but officers were not there to help you. You were just in to do your time for whatever crime you did.

SCOTT SILVERMAN: Historically, what it is, when a young man would get out, his mentor will be the probation officer. And so right now, we work in concert, if you will, with probation. So when our Jolt facilitators actually go make a site visit, say, for example, he's living with an aunt or a grandma, or Sarah is living with another relative, we actually make the home visit with the probation. So it isn't just custodial staff. It's actually brokers, if you will, in the community, mentors. So they're like big brothers and big sisters, if you will, to a degree. So we go together and we team.

And now that probation's taking I real strong active role in becoming, if you will, part of the mentoring piece rather than just custodial, they have a chance to help build that relationship and the confidence and also the trust. 'Cause that was a big issue, 'cause obviously if you're a knucklehead, you're not gonna be candid and honest and forthright with your probation officer. But if your probation officer's trying to help you get back into school and there's a facilitator sitting right next to them that wants to see you get an education and actually wants to see you stay out of the system, that's kind of rewarding. And in some ways we become kind of a surrogate family and positive role models. 'Cause one of the things that's interesting is studies show that most kids will emulate what they see a parent do, so you know, they'll see a parent getting arrested or going to prison, there's an 80 percent chace they're gonna mirror what the parent does. So getting with these kids early and trying to be part of their, you know, positive role modeling and real, real critical.

THE COURT: Now, Oscar, you you're working now too right?

OSCAR: Yes, of course. I'm part of Henry's.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Henry's. All right. That's cool.

OSCAR: Yeah.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm wondering, you know, is this is this a program that has different things that everybody has to meet? Or is this a one size fits all program, or can you tailor it to the individual needs of the the young people that you're sponsoring?

SCOTT SILVERMAN: Well, one of the things that we did that was kind of unique with our trainers or Jolt trainers, if you will, I like to call them facilitators, and it's a CBT model, which is a cognitive behavioral training component, but what we've done is asked them to bring the life scale piece of what they've learned in the real world. So it's tailored to each individual. SO for example, if Sarah says I really want to go to school, I really want to be a nurse, then her facilitator is gonna team talk that, and we're gonna use our relationships and collaborations in the community to try to get her focused on that career path she wants. She may need to get a job right now so she can survive. But work first is important. Then that job becomes the ammunition. Then we become part of that team if you will that supports nursing school.

So for example, with Oscar, you know, he's currently working at Henry's. He's actually had a couple of promotions already, and his attitude's real strong. And when he bumps into that decision anxiety or the peer pressure, he has the coaching if you will right there with him. So you know his buddies may say come let's do this this and that, but he's gone gotta check in with his facilitator within the next couple of hours to see how the week's going, and he's getting a paycheck.

And what's interesting is success can be a barrier as well. When you're not used to success in your life and you get a couple of paychecks, you have some touch decision to make. Do you go out and buy a new pair of shoes? Do you go out and get stuck on what I call "stupid" and do what you used to do? But you have choices now, and you know you can call somebody. And simply learning how to ask for help is a great tool. And they've done that. Upon and that's why they're sitting here today. They've learned how to ask for help and they know help's available.

THE COURT: I'm speaking with Scott Silverman, and Sarah and Oscar, and we are talking about the Jolt program, part of the Second Chance here in San Diego. Wee inviting your phone calls, if you have questions about the program or about juvenile detention, give us a call at 1 888 895 5727. You know, Scott, as I said in the introduction, there are a lot of people who want to see young offenders to do adult time.

SCOTT SILVERMAN: Uh huh.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: They don't you know, the idea of young offenders being truly different and a different class of offender is not as popular as it used to be. What are your feelings about that?

SCOTT SILVERMAN: Well, you know, it's funny. I have a brother in law that jokes and says nine out of ten people, they get out of program. If they didn't get out, we wouldn't have exoffenders. So I think a lot of people in the community that take a perspective, you do something wrong you should be locked up. Well, every bit of 30 years of study shows that incarceration is not working the way we planned for it to do. There are some people, by the way, who need to be put behind and put into facilities and maybe never leave because of their behavior or the way they act out, or taking another life, or their level of violence. Most people in the system today, you know, it's around substance abuse, that's around illicit drug distribution, or it's around trying to find a way to be I like to call them unlicensed pharmacists to create a source of income.

So if we expose people to opportunities and options and to education as power, I think there's gonna be lots to of ways to really change the way people think about that. Because that thought process, the three strikes law, clearly has shown us all that putting people away in little cages with no resources, with other knuckleheads, and no rehab and no education and no literacy, when they come out, they're in worse shape than when they went in.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Oscar, let me ask you, what's been the hardest part of being in the transition and having your job now and living this kind of life?

OSCAR: I'm staying committed to it, to what you're doing, staying positive, successful. Having that mindset in you.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So how do you do that?

OSCAR: Just look forward. Work with different kinds of people. I work for Henry's, and all my coworkers show me a lot of respect, and not the respect that I used to have, but I still have respect.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, the people that you work with in the Jolt program and in Second Chance, I'm wondering, does everybody come across to you as really kind of authentic, that they know what they're talking about? They're not just talking at you, but they really kind of understand what you're going through?

OSCAR: Yeah, yeah. They understand. They have patience. Something that's you know, other people don't have. Patience.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Sarah, let me ask you, what has been the hardest part of making the transition between being in juvenile detention and trying and getting started on this new life path that you're on?

SARAH: The hardest thing is not going out doing what I used to do, not have a job. I have family to take care of. I have a boyfriend that wants to be with me. So just being with them, just trying to go and do what I have to do now. I can't be playing games and going out on the streets like I used to.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right. And so just like I asked Oscar, how do you how do you maintain that kind of discipline, you know, that you're gonna really not do that and really move forward with this new life?

SARAH: Well, I think it's my job, that I don't want to lose it, that I want to get money in my pocket to get what I want. So I believe it's like more my job and my family not seeing me go back in there.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And so Scott, the idea of having a job is really so key.

SCOTT SILVERMAN: Well, you know, that concept busy hands are happy hands. Everything you've just heard them describe and they have activities now, even though they may be in only a 7, 8 hour job, they've gotta get there. They have responsibilities now, and I think what happens is you don't have to take the worry or the worry doesn't have to be taken, what are you gonna do with your idle time? There isn't a whole lot of it. You and I are working full time, I have two kids in college. When you're busy, you don't have as much time to have that anxiety of how do I fill my time up. You're hanging out with those who are winners.

And as Oscar said, his mentors are his coworkers, and his coworkers sure know a little bit about his history, because he comes across as a guy with a lot of experience. And when he smiles now, he's saying I'm part of the team, and I want to continue that. I think what they're doing and they're finding their way, and those questions you ask, although simple, could be complicated if your experience has been to not stay busy and have a structure. And you asked earlier, how do we tailor that? Based on their needs. Some have a lot more responsibilities than others. Some have actually been raising their siblings in their family. They've actually been the mom or the dad in the household. So they have a lot of those skills, and using those and transferring those to what they're currently doing.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We Are taking your calls at 1 888 895 5727. Tyra is on the line from San Diego. Good morning, Tyra. Welcome to these days.

NEW SPEAKER: Good morning. Good morning, Scott, Sarah, and Oscar. Oscar, it's supervisor Miles.

OSCAR: Oh. Hi, Miles.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Hey. How are you?

OSCAR: Pretty good.

NEW SPEAKER: I'm calling you guys to let you know that number one, Oscar, I'm so proud of you.

OSCAR: Thank you.

NEW SPEAKER: It's so good.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How do you know Oscar?

NEW SPEAKER: I worked with Oscar in the YOU program at East Mesa. I'm the supervisor of one of the units, and I want you guys to know that we have your show on in one of the units for the guys this morning.

SCOTT SILVERMAN: So Alpha and Bravo are listening in today? Yeah, a big shout out to Alpha and and Bravo. I'll see you guys soon. I will. You guys won't, but I'll see you guys soon.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Tyra, is there anything else you want to say?

NEW SPEAKER: I would like Oscar and Sarah if they could to talk to the guys for a few moments. Because like Scott said, the real challenge is once they leave. Oscar was awesome. You know, as you can tell, he's a special young man. And I don't know Sarah. But I'm sure she's got a lot of positive qualities as well. But Oscar we pretty much knew was going to do it when he got out.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Uh huh.

NEW SPEAKER: You can see that in him but we see that in a lot of young men then unfortunately they do run up against a lot of challenges when they leave our facility. They make fantastic changes while they're with us but when they leave they really have a hard time assimilating that to their receive once they get out. So Oscar I was hoping make you could give the guys, you know, a little bit of advice or encouragement with how they could make it when they get out.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That seems fair enough. Tyra, thank you very much for the call. You know what I'm gonna do Oscar I'm gonna give you a chance to think about that for a minute, because we have to take a short break. When we return, Oscar and Sarah can talk about talk directly to people at east mesa juvenile facility. And you've been listening to These Days, we'll be back in a moment on KPBS.

Welcome back I'm Maureen Cavanaugh you're listening to These Days on KPBS. And we're talking about the Jolt program here in San Diego. It's designed to increase the odds of rehabilitation for young offenders. Scott Silverman is one of my guests. He's executive director and founder of the Second Chance organization. And we have two young members of the Jolt program, Sarah and Oscar. We just got a phone call before we went into the brake from an administrator at the east mesa juvenile facility. And she told us that everybody there was listening into the program. And she asked if Oscar and Sarah have perhaps a few words of wisdom or just something they'd like to say so Oscar I'm gonna ask you first.

OSCAR: Okay, all I want to say is that, you know, I know you guys are locked upright now of it's not a good place to be. I've been through that and I succeeded. My way out was my family, you know? You got every I know every success one of you guys has a loved one. And you may be a knucklehead right now, but I guarantee you, you will grow up out of it. So I just wish you the best.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Thanks Oscar. That was great. Sarah?

SARAH: Well, what I have to say is that put your mind to it, be motivated. And of course your family or your loved one doesn't always have to be a family, it could be your girlfriend, 'cause a mentor, just be there for them and they will help you get there.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Thanks Sarah. And Scott, tell us a little bit about this east mesa youth offender facility.

SCOTT SILVERMAN: Sure I will but I wanted to just chime into what they said. Is that you don't want have to do life alone and doing life alone is almost impossible and sometimes if you don't be you can talk to the staff there, people like Tyra and I don't have anybody, and they'll sit down and talk they'll talk you true it, and if they don't, can't, we have staff who can do it and if nothing else, we'll be that partner on the inside and on the outside. For the transition which is really what's unique about this program. Well, the East Mesa facility is one of the newest prisons right now in the country, which is interesting that San Diego happened to be the home for it, but I guess it was some funding issues years ago that made it possible. And the YOU unit with youth offender unit is where a lot of the young people will go. It's kind of that last chance that really replaces in many ways the California Youth Authority State Prisons. That's where the youth have been brought back, the theory being if they're closer to the community they may have a better chance of reentering of you will.

And of course we all know that the California youth authority state prison for young people is just horrible, and it was costing up to $175,000 per year per child in that state prison and they had about a 95 percent failure rate. Right now the adult population has an 80 percent failure rate. So it's clear it wasn't working. And we everyone kept thinking, well, the government'll figure it out. And we realized that the government really is us paying the money that the government's not managing effectively in a system that has an 80 percent plus failure rate. So this YOU unit right now integrates with probation and organizations like ours on the outside with the work force partnership, which is WIA money, which is the Workforce Investment Act and gives us the postrelease outside money to bring the relationships to these folks to help them get back into the community and give them the tools they need, the transportation, and opportunities you know, to get to and from, whether it's work, school, or family, or faith based support. Whatsoever's best for them.

But having that relationship on the inside, building the trust on the outside is really what works, because rehab in my opinion, as I said earlier, cannot be done effectively on the inside. Right now the state prison system completely eliminated any kind of substance abuse rehabilitation and took away all the educators. So having people like Tyra who's proactive and who says to the kids I don't want to see you come back. Because historically, the staff used to say, see you soon. That was the last message they got in the system. And working with Matt Jenkins the chief of probation and all the probation in the community peace officers has just been incredible. Because their attitude is we don't want the kids coming back. We don't mind having a diminished case load. Because they see there will be plenty of opportunity for their career over time. SO it's been very exciting, the opportunity this last year. We hope to continue. We have I three year contract with a two year option, and the sum, it took three years to create with probation, and according to them, it's never been done before.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right. And this is one of the reasons we're talking about JOLT, because you had the first year anniversary lately, and I'm wondering what have you learned in the first year? What did you think was gonna work that didn't work out too well? What do you need more of?

SCOTT SILVERMAN: Well, you know one of the things that we're doing right now is we're having focus groups right now. The city's gang and crime prevention commission which I'm the commissioner of actually went inside, it was exciting, down with one of the Alpha and Bravo units, one of the 17 year olds looked at the chief of probation and said, you know, if it wasn't for me, you wouldn't have a job. We actually had to kind of change that kind of thinking, because if he wasn't doing what he was doing, the chief wouldn't really be doing what he was doing. But he'd find other things to do.

But a 17 year old making that kind of statement that he's been gang banging since he was nine years old. So one of the things we've really learned is, as you said, there is no one set rule for young people. You can't just say get a job, go to school, do this, do that. Doesn't work. One size doesn't fit all, especially when you look at what's happened in their past. And the reason we haven't talked about this for a year, which is unusual, you know it's not my style, as you know, Maureen, but we wanted to figure out through the process what works, what doesn't work.

So we're learning not only from the probation staff, we're learning from the kids themselves. They're giving us feedback. And these young people, if they continue to do what they're doing, hopefully will be mentors very soon, and they'll come into a focus group. And when someone says, how does this work, Oscar will tell them, Sarah will tell them. Because they're testimony as a mentor, peer to peer, is really what the evidence shows works. It's not a guy like me coming in, going you're a knucklehead, do this, do that, even though I have a history. But when this young person sits and talks to somebody their same age, oh, he's been there and done that, there's a realism that goes with that.

So the biggest lessons are we're learning how to integrate with the community and integrate with probation and the county itself, because there's a lot of interesting rules and regs. And as a social entrepreneur, you know, I had a bit of an adjustment as well. And then we've learned that what we thought we needed at the beginning with our facilitators is a little bit different. They don't necessarily need to be clinicians, because there's a lot of clinical support. But they need to be life handlers. They need to be requested coaches, and sometimes if you haven't been a coach there's a learning curve around that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm wondering, Sarah, when people learn your history, you know, when they realize you've been a youth offender and so forth, do you find that people first of all, what's their reaction?

SARAH: They judge me. They think I can't do things that they can. So they just all judge, they don't understand what I've been through or what he's been through. So

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And what how do you take that? Is that a challenge to you or is it disrespectful? How do you take that?

SARAH: Well, I don't take it as disrespect. I just try to see it, like, oh, they don't understand. So it's my job not sometimes well, sometimes, not all the time, that I try and, like, help them.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Understand?

SARAH: Understand, yeah.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And do you feel do you think for the most part people are willing to give you a second chance?

SARAH: It depends who it is.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Uh huh. That's very interesting. So some people yes, some people no.

SARAH: Uh huh.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Oscar, the same with you?

OSCAR: Yes. I think there's always a Second Chance. I think there's always a Second Chance. I think yeah.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And when and when people learn your history

OSCAR: Yeah.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What's the kind of reaction you get?

OSCAR: They get, like, they're amazed for what I've accomplished.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right.

OSCAR: So

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: For who you are now.

OSCAR: For who I am.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That's good. You know, Scott, one of the reasons that we're sitting here talking today is not just these two people but the other success stories that you have. And I know you have another of success story from Jolt, a girl named Jocelyn who's working as a receptionist at Second Chance.

SCOTT SILVERMAN: Correct. We call it director of first impressions and training. She's one of the graduates of the Jolt program, the JRPTs, and she's been through the four week job training as well. So she's a product of all the things we have to after and now living in our housing as well. So she's got that enriched opportunity, and that's 'cause you know, you have to have all three of those. You have to have the housing, you have to have an address, you need to be working we believe, and once you've got the job, you can go back to school. Unless you have some other financially sustainability opportunity. And the other is the mental health and wraparound services we give all those that we serve.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I know you told me this is possibly a three year programming but in your mind, how long do you think this type of mentoring needs to be done, to make sure somebody can totally on their feet, can handle things on their own, etc., etc. Is it different for everybody, or do you have any idea?

SCOTT SILVERMAN: To be honest, I'm 56 and I still have temper tantrums, Maureen, so I can't really tell you that. I would say that we need to have a strong support system minimally for at least and depending upon the age, and the problem with someone, not the problem, but the obstacle with someone who's 14 years old, you're not ready to go to work. And our program starts at age 15 and goes to 21. If you will, that's based on the guidelines of the funding.

So as we look for the funding in the community and from individuals and foundations and corporations to build capacity, we have more flexibility. Because right now, funding for example for emancipated youth is restricted in the foster care system. A kid gets out at 18, there's no more resources for them, they're cut off because that's the way the law is set up. So we're trying to find ways to build a hybrid bridge for this so we can get people across the bridge so to speak. So minimally I'd say we're talking closer to three years, and there has to be some support opportunity. But for us, if you go through our four week program and you graduate, we make a two year commitment. You stay in touch with us the next two years, we have a lifetime commitment. So five years down the road, there's a hiccup, a company gets sold, you have a relationship, something changes, we're still there for you as a safety net. As families my kids are 19 to 24, respectively, kids come home. So it's nice to have that safety net. And as long as we're able to get the resources, and we'll work as hard as we can to make sure that the investment we make in our partnership with Oscar, and you know, with Sarah, we're gonna make sure, and Jocelyn, that we're there for them as long as we can be.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me just tell you briefly about the resources all we hear from Sacramento and other various government organization system how strapped for cash they are. Where are your resources coming from and are they secure?

SCOTT SILVERMAN: Well, I don't think there's such a thing as a resource that's secure but we don't get state money right now. We get county money for our probation. And our agency's blended. We have a housing income stream, we have private dollars, individuals and foundations, and we have some federal money, our local congressman's been real helpful, and we have a big gift we'll be announcing in about a month for the two 2011 fiscal year. But we work hard, and we're hoping guys like Oscar and Sarah will when they start getting paid on a regular basis they'll start kicking some back to the agency. You know, we get all of our clothes donated, and when the donates clothes are used by the individuals and they get their jobs, and they don't need a suit and tie anymore, they donate them back.

So we're really into building that empowerment with individuals and we're always looking for ways to get the community invested in what we're doing. Because the benefits are significant. Saves the taxpayers a hundred and $25,000, and you could house and transport and feed somebody pretty effectively for half that money. A federal prevailing wage the at the poverty level is only $22,000. So if we can get a taxpayer to save 125 grand and we can get them to invest a third of that back with other individuals to continue what we doing. But there is no assurances around that.

So it's important for people like this to get out. There spokespeople now, they're here in the studio with us, and it's important that they share the word and talk to their friends at Henry's, and talk at the places where they work, and their homeboys and homegirls and say, look at me, I'm doing something that looks good, feels right. I'm no longer in a facility, I'm no longer I'm not being told where to eat, where to sit, how to stand, where to put my hands. And there are some people that have been institutionalized so long, they have not experienced this side of the community yet.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, the first anniversary of the JOLT program is not the only anniversary I know you're celebrating this year, and Second Chance, your primary organization your founding organization so to speak will celebrate 18 years of service to the San Diego community on the 19th of October.

SCOTT SILVERMAN: That's correct.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Congratulations, first of all.

SCOTT SILVERMAN: Thank you.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Tell us a little bit about in when you first started Second Chance. What was the landscape like? What was missing in San Diego for people who wanted to make a bridge between incarceration or substance abuse into a first kind of life.

SCOTT SILVERMAN: The thing that probably is most profound for me that in many ways unfortunately still exists 18 years later is that the folks in our industry, social service delivery industry, have a job description, and for some reason we've not connected the dots I mean today in city hall they're gonna be voting on that facility to build the big housings me downtown at our local world trade center.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The permanent homeless shelter.

SCOTT SILVERMAN: Correct, to house 225 people, and the homeless counts were just done. So as a homeless provider, what continues to behalf he, we have all of these services we have all this money being spent, and the problem continues to grow, the systemic change hasn't even kicked in yet, and some of the best leaders in this city have said the change isn't coming around, and our attitude is they are. One of the things Second Chance wants to go, be we want to expand in California and hopefully go nationwide, because the model we've put together, it works. It's evidence based, it's very cost effective, there's a huge ROI for the investor. And employers out there last year in the worst economy I've ever seen in my life, you've already heard how old I am, was 70 percent placed individuals through our program. 70 percent. And everyone said, how could that be? Well, we took a picture of every paycheck so we know it's documented, and it continues to be a high percent of placement because the simple things we're talking about, works.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Scott, thank you and congratulations.

SCOTT SILVERMAN: Thanks, Maureen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And congratulations to Sarah. Thanks so much, Sarah.

SARAH: You're welcome.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Great job, Oscar.

OSCAR: Thank you.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Thank you so much. If you'd like to comment on what you've heard today on These Days, you can go on line, KPBS.org/thesedays.

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