Foundation, Unions Give ‘Second Chance’ to Once-Incarcerated Graduates
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 17, 2018
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FOUNDATION, UNIONS GIVE ‘SECOND CHANCE’ TO ONCE-INCARCERATED GRADUATES
Ceremony for 33 graduates marks fifth cohort prepared to re-enter the world of work by program developed in collaboration between Miguel Contreras Foundation, Anti-Recidivism Coalition, LATTC and unions
Los Angeles, CA – In a celebration at Los Angeles Trade Tech College, the Second Chance training Pre-Apprenticeship Bootcamp program graduated its fifth cohort class of 33 formerly incarcerated people.
The Bootcamp is a joint undertaking between five core partners: the LA Fed, the Miguel Contreras Foundation, the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, and Los Angeles Trade-Technical College. This coalition has allowed the Bootcamp to provide real and lasting career opportunities through union apprenticeships for formerly incarcerated individuals, creating too-rare opportunities and reducing recidivism.
The union apprenticeships that graduates prepare to enter provide paid job training, good middle class wages and benefits, and clear pathways for career advancement. Apprenticeships are established through union-employer agreements. Apprentices earn certifications, employment experience, and transferable skills.
“We have a choice to make as a society,” said Rusty Hicks, President of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. “Will we let people pay their debts to society and welcome their best efforts to return, or will we send them out into the world with neither options nor hope? The people of the Los Angeles labor movement have made that choice, and these graduates prove that our communities are stronger when our arms are open wide.”
The cohort celebrating today comprises 33 graduates, spanning a wide range of ages and experiences with incarceration. They have developed jobsite construction skills as well as “soft skills” around punctuality, attitude and fitness. Twenty-six have already been placed on job sites or selected for apprenticeships, a record accomplishment for the program. Among them are several “lifers”, who did not know when they went into prison that they would ever come out, but who won parole and are rebuilding their lives.
Raul Barranco, 41, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison more than two decades ago. Through hard work and good behavior he became eligible for parole and left the California Men’s Colony – West in 2017. He is preparing for an apprenticeship with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 11, and is currently preparing to take the required math exam.
“When I first got out of prison about 11 months ago, after being incarcerated for 21 years, I came out with a passion and a plan to succeed at my second chance at life,” said Raul, who was selected by Bootcamp instructor Jaime Alvarez to give a valedictory address. “I soon found out the harsh reality that life loves to put obstacles in people’s plans. This program didn’t tear down those obstacles for me-it helped me understand what I needed to do to knock them down. Our teachers constantly reminded us that the sweat, the discomfort, and the elements were our reality and told us, ‘Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life.'”
Other graduates of the program include sisters Isamar Marroquin and Belia Lopez. Marroquin has been accepted to an apprenticeship with Plumbers Local 78. Lopez, like Barranco, will apply to IBEW Local 11. Graduates have also been accepted for apprenticeships with Laborers Local 300, Ironworkers Local 433, and the Painters Union.
“Very few people are ready to walk off the street into a union building trades apprenticeship,” said Ron Miller, Executive Secretary of the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO. “The people who come through the Second Chance training are motivated, brave and ready to hit the ground running for demanding, valuable work.”
“This graduation is proof that redemption is real,” said Shaka Songhar, Executive Director of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition. “People can reach the power of their potential when we wrap them up in the resources they need to restart their lives.”
“Too many walls stand between workers and the jobs that can support them and their families, and for formerly incarcerated people, those walls are higher than most of us imagine,” said Jessie Mosqueda, Deputy Director of the Miguel Contreras Foundation. “The Miguel Contreras Foundation is here to pull those walls down. We’re proud to stand in coalition with our sisters and brothers to make today possible and celebrate these graduates’ hard work and bright futures.”
“The community college system is where many Angelenos get their first chance at higher education,” said Larry Frank, President of Los Angeles Trade Tech College, “and we’re proud to be part of a coalition that provides many more with their second chance.”
Since its founding in 2016, the Second Chance Pre-Apprenticeship Bootcamp has placed 80% of its graduates, all formerly incarcerated, in high-wage, union construction jobs. Los Angeles is home to the largest formerly incarcerated population in California, with tens of thousands of individuals released in the County each year.