STRAIGHT LIFE PROGRAM
The Straight Life Program is a cooperative plan between the Deuel Vocational Institution located in Tracy California and the Livermore Valley Unified School District. Tracy is located about 15 miles East of Livermore. Deuel is a maximum security prison comprised of many inmates who are serving life sentences.
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The general purpose of the Straight Life Program is to (1) reduce juvenile crime; (2) assist concerned community agencies who work directly with juvenile offenders and potential offenders in their efforts to free them from their misconceptions about crime and its consequences; (3) provide a new and valuable resource for the community and the criminal justice system; and (4) create an opportunity for Deuel Vocational Institution inmates to utilize their prison and/or life experiences in a positive way.
The program is staffed by inmates and volunteer DVI staff members. Juvenile referrals are accepted from schools, parents, social services, members of the judiciary community as well as city/county government, and law enforcement agency officials.
The program offers three consecutive sessions with juveniles and their parents/guardians. These sessions last approximately five hours each (8:00 am to 1:30 pm) consecutive Saturdays. The sessions are designed to develop a certain amount of inmate-juvenile interactions in which the juveniles can confront problems and experiences that they might find difficult to discuss with their parents or other adults, without loss of face or fear of censorship.
Students from our District who have been involved in consistent violation of school rules are eligible for the program. The program is used as a prevention step for students who may be facing possible expulsion from school. Students and his or her parents meet with the School Community Liaison to discuss the program. Parents review an informational film about the program and the prison and then give permission for their student to participate.
2. When was the program created and why?
The program was created approximately 10 years ago to respond to the community and schoolís request to establish a crime diversion approach for juvenile offenders.
3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?
The program is evaluated by statistics indicating a decrease in school crime and by following a studentís progress after they have gone through the experience of meeting with inmates. Life in prison as discussed by the inmate is a strong deterrent to juvenile crime.
4. How is the program financed?
There is no cost to the program with the exception of the transportation related expenses to transport the students to the prison. The school district absorbs this cost.
5. How is the community involved in the program?
A wide range of the community is involved. Law enforcement, social services, education, judiciary, and parents take an active part in maintaining the program.
6. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.