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Calif. program connects inmates with post-release employment

The E2E network, which was piloted at California State Prison, Solano, connects inmates with employers and helps them to secure employment before they are released

E2E program

CDCR

By Lynzie Lowe
The Reporter, Vacaville, Calif.

VACAVILLE, Calif. — With just 70 days left of his prison sentence, Fausto Basso is anything but scared to take on a new career post-release after participating in the new Entry to Education program at California State Prison, Solano.

“This program is a blessing to have,” said Basso. “It lowers my anxiety to find employment right when I get out ... it has given me confidence and self worth, it’s given me a purpose in my life, being able to show up and work every day. I’m not taking away from society like I used to.”

The E2E network — which has been a partnership effort between the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA), the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), and the California Employment Development Department for the past two years — connects incarcerated individuals with employers and helps them to secure employment before they are released from prison.

Piloted at California State Prison, Solano, the program officially kicked off in December and has already expanded to eight other institutions, including Central California Women’s Facility, Valley State Prison, San Quentin Rehabilitation Center and Avenal State Prison. According to Rusty Bechtold, CALPIA’s Assistant General Manager over Workforce Development, the program will be expanded to 13 facilities by November and will be instituted at all state facilities by 2025.

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“The E2E network is a game changer when it comes to successful reentry for incarcerated individuals,” said CALPIA’s General Manager Bill Davidson. “CALPIA wants individuals to have a career before they return to their communities and this first-of-its-kind network is definitely helping in the process.”

Robert Castaneda, a former inmate at California State Prison, Solano, worked through CALPIA’s optical program while serving a 20-year sentence and was able to obtain an optical technician certificate before earning a state license when he got out of prison. He is now a homeowner working for a reputable optical company, while raising a family with his wife.

Although the E2E program was not in place when he was incarcerated, Castaneda said a program like this is crucial for other incarcerated individuals because they have been removed from all of society’s regular practices while incarcerated.

“I had no life experience on the outside,” said Castaneda. “I had never had a driver’s license, I didn’t know how to use a computer ... I was a bit clueless.”

Castaneda said the E2E program not only helps incarcerated individuals familiarize themselves with the outside world, but also helps produce the mindset needed to stay away from trouble and succeed once released.

For himself, Castaneda said a program such as this would have helped him elevate some of the frustrations he felt after getting out of prison and trying to start a life for himself from scratch.

“I just didn’t know where to start,” said Castaneda. “This can help the guys stay away from those frustrations, which could lead to anger and get them in trouble.”

The E2E network provides incarcerated individuals with access to EDD’s second-chance employer list, job opportunities available through CalJOBS, and other popular employment websites as well as the private business sector, to help connect skills learned behind bars to career in a variety of fields, including welding, optical, computer coding, underwater welding, and healthcare facilities maintenance.

While in the program, Davidson said inmates are assisted with not only work skills, but “soft skills” as well, including computer skills, writing and distributing a resume, the importance of showing up on time, how to handle conflict and appropriate interactions with manager and coworkers, and more.

“It is also great because the secure portfolio that is created while incarcerated will be moved to the CalJOBS platform upon their release, so they can continue to access it once they are out,” said Davidson.

Individuals with approximately 180 days left on their sentence and who are part of CALPIA’s job training program are eligible to participate in the E2E program.

While the program is still new, Davidson said there has been great interest from inmates.

“Almost everyone that is eligible to participate has signed up,” said Davidson. “And the ones that will be eligible soon are eager to get started.”

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