Gov. Brown signs AB 683, a Cultural Re-Entry Programs bill

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SACRAMENTO – Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia’s first bill of the 2017-2018 legislative session. The bill, AB 683, Cultural Re-Entry Programs, is legislation that will expand access to resources and help reduce recidivism for one of the state’s most vulnerable populations, according to a press release from Garcia’s office.

“I want to thank the Legislature and Governor Brown for their support,” Garcia said in the press release. “AB 683, Cultural Re-Entry Programs seeks to rectify social and systemic barriers facing incarcerated and previously incarcerated men and women. This legislation takes critical steps toward healing, empowering and strengthening our communities,” he stated. “To reduce recidivism, it is essential to employ restorative justice programs and build bridges toward reconciliation and healthy family relationships. Studies show that this type of work is key both to improving post release outcomes as well as drastically improving the trajectory for children of the incarcerated,” Garcia continued.

Specifically, this measure will authorize the counties of Alameda, Imperial, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Clara, and San Joaquin to implement pilot programs to provide re-entry services and support to persons who are, or who are scheduled to be, released from a county jail, said the report.

Mayor Steven Hernandez of Coachella claimed in the press release that “the passage of AB 683 takes a great step in authorizing counties to implement and provide reentry services and support to people who, or who are scheduled to be released from a county jail.  Programs like support services for parents or a mentorship program can go a long way to breaking cycles of incarceration within families. The city looks forward to seeing what type of pilot programs are developed at the county level and how they affect recidivism locally and county-wide.”

Garcia claims the pilot programs in the aforementioned counties will facilitate a culturally competent mentorship program aimed at job training and technical education, expand the availability of mental health resources, and provide leadership opportunities, amongst other objectives.

“We want to applaud Governor Jerry Brown for signing Assembly Bill 683 and commend the great leadership of Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia’s office on their efforts in making this a reality,” said Hector Sanchez-Flores, executive director of the National Compadres Network in the press release. “AB 683 will create a culturally-centered and healing informed strategy to help men transition back into the lives of their children in a healthy manner, and support reintegration of the families from which they were separated.” The nonprofit organization served as the chief bill sponsor.

According to the release, the National Compadres Network provides technical assistance to community leaders in areas throughout the state. For example, Coachella Valley Unified School District’s After School Education and Safety (ASES) program has been able to utilize their evidence based Joven Noble curriculum.

“Congratulations to our Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia for supporting his constituents,” said Bea Gonzalez, ASES District Coordinator for Coachella Valley Unified School District in the press release. “AB 683 is an amazing opportunity to support our community members by providing a true reentry program. These programs will work as long as they provide The Circle of Health which includes spiritual, physical, mental and emotional support.”

“We have two things to focus on in our community; preventing our students from entering the school-to-prison pipeline and restoring those who have lost their sacred purpose,” Gonzalez said.