Second Chance Month event highlights reentry graduate success

Participants at Santa Ana DRC
The week of activities at the Santa Ana DRC concluded with a short ceremony acknowledging participants at the Santa Ana DRC on Friday, April 26.

A former reentry participant who graduated from the Santa Ana Day Reporting Center returned as a guest speaker in honor of national Second Chance Month to talk about his experience in the criminal justice system, including enrolling in Santa Ana College in paralegal studies through the help of GEO Reentry staff at the DRC. The event at Santa Ana DRC was one of many throughout the week recognizing participants’ hard work and determination on their transition to their communities.

Matthew F. was referred to the Santa Ana DRC in June 2018 and spent several months in the reentry program before enrolling in Santa Ana College’s American Bar Association approved paralegal program in September 2018. With the encouragement and support of DRC staff, he was able to connect with resources in the community to support him while he was simultaneously enrolled in the reentry program and paralegal studies at Santa Ana College.

Guest speakers shared their experience in criminal justice and how reentry services impacted their life.
Guest speakers shared their experience in criminal justice and how reentry services impacted their life.

“Mr. Fahey was very engaged in the different services we offer at the DRC,” De Santiago said. “Our staff was able to find him housing and a job developer worked very closely with him to fill out his application for school. We were also able to help him with his textbooks while he was in the program.”

Since completing the program in early 2019, Matthew regularly returns to the center to talk with current participants and work on homework in the facility’s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy lab. He is scheduled to graduate from Santa Ana College this spring. For Matthew, like many offenders, education has been an important component of his successful transition to a life without crime.

Education and employment are important for successful reentry, recognized by multiple national studies as necessary elements of reentry programming to reduce offender recidivism. Decades of research support education as a means to reduce recidivism, with some studies showing reincarceration reduced from 49 percent to just twenty percent with the addition of education in reentry programming.

Recognizing this research, Second Chance Month aims to draw awareness to the needs of offenders throughout the U.S. as they transition from confinement to community.

As a long-time leader in the implementation and expansion of evidence-based programs for the U.S. offender population, GEO Reentry Services hosted multiple events nationwide highlighting the impact of reentry programming, including community mentorship opportunities, open houses and transition ceremonies.