On August 12th and 13th, 2015, CSI’s Santa Maria and Santa Barbara Day Reporting Centers held their fifth annual client graduation ceremonies. The graduations were well-attended and well-publicized, receiving positive press from a number of sources. Articles about the graduations were featured in several prominent news outlets, including the Santa Barbara Independent, the Santa Maria Times, the Santa Barbara News-Press, and KEYT.
At the Santa Maria ceremony, held at the Radisson Hotel, 29 clients were honored for completing the program. The program’s Client of the Year Award was given to Humberto Gutierrez, whose achievements include obtaining full time employment, reuniting with his children, moving from a Sober Living Environment to his own residence, and providing steadfast support to other returning offenders. Mr. Gutierrez’s fellow graduate Leslie Kamery gave a stirring speech at the event and was featured on the front page of the August 13th edition of the Santa Maria Times.
One of the ceremony’s notable attendees was Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, who praised the graduates and spoke about the continued success of the DRC’s, stating “we have had over 700 people who have gone through this program. Those are 700 of the people who would be most at risk of re-offending, most at risk of committing serious offenses again.” Sheriff Brown was also presented with an award from CSI for his support of reentry programs and services.
The Santa Barbara ceremony, held at the Unitarian Church, honored 22 graduating clients. Of the graduates, two received further recognition for their outstanding performances, including Tongee Tomlinson, who won the Tom Jenkins/Mark Mahurin Client of the Year Award. Following her release from a six-year sentence, Ms. Tomlinson entered the DRC and is now attending Santa Barbara City College, where she earned a 4.0 GPA during her first year. She currently acts as a mentor in the SBCC Transitions Program. Edgar Miguel was the second graduate to earn individual acclaim, receiving a Community Service Award for his 65 hours of completed community service (25 hours are required for all DRC clients).
CSI began operating the Day Reporting Centers in 2010, partnering with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office. Since that time, the two programs have combined to serve over 1,200 clients. There have been numerous clients who, after achieving success, have continued to come back to the programs for graduations and events. One such client is Larry Davidson, who returned to speak at the Santa Barbara graduation. Mr. Davidson, who recently earned a certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling at Santa Barbara City College, spoke of the success that he and many of his fellow graduates have enjoyed, expressing his gratitude towards the DRC’s staff for giving him chances that he had never previously received.
The DRC programs offer a variety of services, including case management, employment assistance, and community service opportunities, with the goal of giving clients the tools to successfully reenter their communities. By completing the programs, clients with significant risks of re-offending are able to learn valuable skills and reduce their likelihood to recidivate.