In July 2010, Community Solutions, Inc. (CSI) branched out to California, opening Day Reporting Centers in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria. Since that time, CSI has expanded its reach in the Golden State, providing Day Reporting Center services to Santa Barbara County Probation clients beginning in 2011 and opening a Case Management program in Ventura in 2014.
In recent months, CSI’s California programs have had several noteworthy occurrences, described in this latest edition of “Checking In.”
College Students Visit Santa Barbara DRC
On April 15th, 2015, the Santa Barbara DRC hosted fifteen California Lutheran University criminal justice students and their instructor. The students toured the facility and had a question and answer session with two DRC graduates, Larry Davidson and John Piccirillo.
Mr. Davidson was part of the first graduating class of the Santa Barbara DRC in July 2011 and is on the verge of graduation from Santa Barbara City College with an Associate in Arts degree in Alcohol and Drug Counseling. Mr. Piccirillo, who graduated from the Santa Maria DRC in 2014, is featured in the documentary “In An Ideal World.”
The students expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to learn firsthand about the DRC and its operations. Santa Barbara Program Coordinator Dawn Geering plans to continue hosting schools who are interested in the program.
Santa Maria DRC Grad Featured in Full-Length Documentary
Santa Maria DRC graduate John Piccirillo is featured in “In An Ideal World”, a Kickstarter-funded documentary by filmmaker Noel Schwerin. The 83-minute documentary dives into the world of a California prison, exploring a number of issues surrounding American incarceration, including reentry, prison reform, and criminal justice policy.
“In An Ideal World” has been shown in over a dozen film festivals and has received praise from a number of sources. It is scheduled for release in 2015 and is the most recent project produced by Ms. Schwerin. Ms. Schwerin is the founder of Backbone Media, a nonprofit production company, and has over twenty years of experience in independent film production. Two of her films, BLOODLINES and A Question of Genes, have become national PBS primetime specials.
For over seven years, Ms. Schwerin received unlimited access to the Correctional Training Facility (widely known as the Soledad State Prison), filming and interviewing three men who have spent their entire adult lives there in different capacities. The narrative follows a firsthand story, with accounts given by inmate Sam Lewis, prison warden Ben Curry, and John Piccirillo.
Mr. Piccirillo has been involved in the pre-release of the film and recently spoke at the Washington, D.C. Independent Film Festival. He will be speaking at Columbia University in late April.
Santa Barbara DRC Client Continues CSI’s Relationship with the Transitions Program
This summer will mark the fifth year of CSI’s participation in the EOPS Summer Bridge Transitions Program at Santa Barbara Community College (SBCC). CSI clients have participated in the unique program since the opening of Santa Barbara DRC, with between six and ten clients typically registering for the program each summer. Transitions’ mission is to “provide access to higher education to individuals released from the California criminal justice system, and create a smooth transition from prison to the community college.”
During the course of the program, students learn how to succeed in college, focusing on skills such as time management, writing, and studying for exams. Students also attend weekly field trips and activities, including Los Angeles Dodgers games, museum trips, ropes courses, and motivational speakers.
In February 2015, SBCC released a short film highlighting the program (View the video). The film includes stories and testimonials from several past and current participants in the program, including a current Santa Barbara DRC client.
According to Ms. Geering, the client featured in the short film began college in summer 2014 as part of the Transitions program and continued on as a full-time student. She is currently in her third semester. Past DRC clients have also completed Transitions and are completing their associate degrees.