Elias G.

REPRESENT JUSTICE X JR: TEHACHAPIJR: TEHACHAPI

So my name is Lieutenant Elias Garcia. I'm the Public Information Officer here at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi. The California Department of Rehabilitation is, it's changing. It's changing for the better. I think we're starting to see that amongst the inmate population. We're starting to see it within our staff and to have a project like this and hear the stories and hear these guys share from a heart to speaking their story and everything that they learn, rehabilitation starts at day one. It starts with the first officer that they meet in the housing units. These guys daily are out here. The staff know when these guys are having a good day and a bad day. Pushing for their rehabilitation, pushing for their success and it was said that today's inmate is tomorrow's neighbor and we're starting to see that more and more and what better way to watch these guys be successful program rehabilitate and they're back in the neighborhoods. Just partaking in something so genuine When staff are here, you've got custody, medical, teachers, vocations, all of these aspects that help with that rehabilitation. It's not just one, it's all of us and if we can send them out better than when they came in, I mean, I like knowing that they're coming back out and they can be my neighbor and I'm okay with that. I'm not looking over my shoulder. So I think the way the department is going, I like it. I like to see how the staff are. I like to see how these offenders are rehabilitating.

0:00 / 0:00

To watch these guys come from a very active yard. So when you see guys make a choice to do something better, to tell gang-related people, “No I’m not participating, I’m looking to better myself,” that’s a success story. When these guys are participating in programs, they’re choosing a better path for themselves. When they’re doing that, that’s less of a headache for custody staff. When my staff can come into work and the stress is gone, the tension is gone, something’s being done right.

So the rehabilitation part, the programs, programs like this where these guys are actually participating because they want to, they choose to. They don’t have that worry, that affiliation from a gang member that they can come out here say what they have to say and somebody is actually listening. It makes them human. It gives them that human element back and sometimes that’s what we’re lacking. When we can start breaking down those barriers, we’re headed in the right direction and when those guys are programming that way and staff don’t have to fear for their safety, for the safety of others, the environment becomes a lot better and I think that’s what we’re starting to see here and that’s the environment I enjoy working on. That’s part of what I like seeing here and I’m thankful that you guys were here to be part of that.

Man, you guys worked so hard, so long. I mean we’re an old institution, you guys put up stuff and made it look like a legit studio. I mean the environment itself and then just the interaction with the inmates. I mean everyone worries like, “Oh man, I hope nothing happens,” but they were all very good. They wanted to talk. They want to tell their story. They weren’t worried about who’s what, who’s where. They’re just being men, guys here to tell a story, and that was really cool. I was like, man, this is… You can actually put your shoulders down and feel “Wow”. That’s cool. That’s really cool. So I’m glad you guys are here. Thank you.