With the addition of 25 graduates celebrated during Vineland Community Resource Center’s final Transition Ceremony of 2018, the New Jersey reentry program completed the year with a successful graduation rate of 53 percent. The high completion rate is encouraging to CRC staff, who oversee the reentry programs to reduce recidivism rates throughout the community.
“It has been very rewarding to provide the tools that produce positive citizenship,” Vineland CRC Director Myriah Jackson said. “We have graduates from 2015 that are maintaining successful lives in society, who continue to return to the facility as mentors and speakers at Transition Ceremonies.”
Before graduating, participants at the CRC undergo a comprehensive, multi-phase program to change criminal thinking and help them be productive members of society. Vineland CRC offers a wide range of reentry services for men and women referred from New Jersey State Parole, with courses such as Thinking for a Change, Anger Management and Employment training and job search programs. Studies show parolees who complete these evidence-based programs are less likely to be reincarcerated and are able to live a life without crime when they rejoin their communities.
At the Vineland CRC Transition Ceremony on December 28, one graduate described how his outlook has changed since starting the program. In his graduation speech, he said he developed a sense of hope for the future after participating in the GEO Reentry services at the CRC.
Additional speakers included Ricky Salaam and Winston Whitlow, two former reentry participants who now serve as mentors to those transitioning to society after completing their program, and Sherry Sandler of the New Jersey State Parole Board Community Programs Division Staff, who delivered an uplifting speech about the path to a life without crime. The celebration also welcomed guests from the New Jersey State Parole Board to present a certificate to Vineland CRC’s parole liaison Officer Velez acknowledging his hard work in the community.
The 25 graduates received certificates of completion during the ceremony, which was followed by a catered reception—complete with a specially decorated cake—for all staff, graduates and current participants in attendance.