Wednesday, March 4, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Tool helps inmates with social, coping skills

CSP-Solano self help class 3_12_14

California State Prison, Solano inmate Cotton Jones, center, takes part in a class on conflict resolution Wednesday, as part of the prison's In Building Self Help program. The program is intended to help inmates make better decisions, improve communication and manage anger. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | March 15, 2014 |

Editors note: This is another in a series of articles out of California Medical Facility and California State Prison Solano, both located in Vacaville.

VACAVILLE — Primes Harrell was just a couple of days shy of being handed his high school diploma when he got into trouble last year at age 18.

He ended up in a Level II dormitory-style facility at California State Prison Solano, sharing space with hundreds of men – mostly older than him – instead of sharing a place with his buddies for some after-graduation summer fun.

The Vacaville state penitentiary is not where the now-19-year-old from Stockton said he wants to stay. If inmate Cotton Jones has anything to say about it, Harrell will learn the skills he needs to stay out of trouble when he is released next year. And be a productive father to his three young children.

“I’m looking at people (here) who have been (in prison) half of their life,” said Harrell, a soft-spoken teen who admitted to fighting a lot while in school. “If I stay here, my kids aren’t going to have any respect for me and if I stay here, I won’t have a relationship (with them).”

Enter Jones.

Jones, like Harrell, is an inmate. He’s the program coordinator for the Level II In Building Self Help program at the prison and was instrumental in its implementation. It’s a one-of-a-kind, peer-to-peer prison program developed by Associate Warden of Level II Operations Kim Young.

He is a 27-year veteran in corrections who oversaw the development of the program when tough financial times resulted in staff reductions and suspended programs a few years ago. It was designed to cut down on idle time with no cost to the taxpayer – staff and inmate volunteers, donations and 15-cents-on-the-dollar inmate positions are its backbone.

The classes focus on such subjects as making better choices, communication techniques, soul-searching and anger management. There are dozens and dozens of choices that also include book clubs and parenting classes – the latter taken by Harrell. Inmate facilitators go through eight hours of general training and then several weeks of training unique to the class they will teach.

While the classes are open to all Level II inmates, Jones said he wants to reach the young ones who wind up in prison. With him, he said, they’ve found a mentor and a safe haven within the walls of a place that can be overwhelming.

On a recent day, as Jones walked through his dormitory facility, he pointed to his bunk – one of the younger inmates, another 19-year-old – was fast asleep.

“He feels safe there,” Jones said.

“We have something in place to help them find balance,” he said of the program, and of a mentoring program designed to help younger prisoners. “When they turn around and (get) out of (prison), they know how to be a better person. Right now, they don’t know how.”

On this recent day, an inmate facilitator conducted a Bible class close to Jones’ bunk, but Jones spent most of his time in another Level II building, sitting in on a class called Conflict Recognition and Resolution for Effective Goal Setting.

The 12-session class has several prerequisite classes: Denial Management, Anger Management, Victim Awareness and a substance abuse class if that was an issue prior to incarceration.

“Most of the time, substance abuse is involved,” said Ronnie Randon, an inmate class member.

Randon is one of several inmates in the class that is taught by two inmate co-facilitators, Richard Bell and Shavar Gilliam. The class location, and the official “office” location of the In Building Self Help program, is an alcove that also houses six inmate bunk beds, next to the showers.

It’s within the direct eyesight of an overhead guard location. It’s not a quiet place, with other inmates involved in myriad pursuits beyond the alcove, but those in attendance inside the alcove gave Bell and Gilliam their full attention, taking notes and asking questions.

The class’s premise is effective goal-setting and reaching those goals despite obstacles and conflicts using the works of Zig Zigler, Abraham Maslow (Hierarchy of Needs) and Lawrence Kohlberg (Theory of Moral Development).

“Every time I teach (this class), I’m getting a better understanding of conflict I have within myself,” Gilliam said.

He admitted that goal-setting is still tough for him because he was so “used to going on a whim.”

Aside from the class’s premise, a sense of community and knowledge of himself is Stephen Bogovich’s takeaway.

“I never understood ‘community’ until I came to the self-help groups,” he said.

Young said there is nothing like the program within the California prison system. She said that it’s not unusual for her to get calls asking about the program’s setup. She credits Jones with being one of the reasons the program exists. It’s cut down on discipline reports and recidivism, Young said.

“I call it ‘bringing the mountain to Mohammed,’ ” she said, citing an adaptation of a popular phrase. “It helps them interact and gives them social skills they probably didn’t have when they came in.

“Out of everything I’ve done in my career, it’s the most powerful . . . meaningful, I should say.”

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 5 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Tax Payer and Victim advocateMarch 15, 2014 - 5:23 am

    There was not a sentence on what crime he committed and how is his victim doing today. BS. You don't get to go to state prison for a minimal offense. BS

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • mescMarch 15, 2014 - 7:16 am

    I was going to write the very same thing. Notice it wasn't a crime? It was "got into trouble". BS He committed a FELONY Crime. I have "got into trouble" and my parents punished me and I didn't get into trouble again. I've never committed a FELONY and been sentenced to Prison!! Please everyone read puff pieces for what they are. This article is not journalism, but a SLANTED VIEWPOINT of the author. WTH is with the D.R. putting these stories on the front page all the time? Multiple times a year we are wrongly told how every druggies at Solano Mission and the other half way (back to the streets) house are "going to do great". Never the follow up when they are re-arrested/back to a life of crime. <<<<>>>> I want everyone to be a success, but I also want honesty in reporting.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • bob iacampoMarch 15, 2014 - 8:12 am

    I was curious as well as to what offense garnered a two year prison sentence in the State Pen but it really doesn't matter. The man was aggressive, had three kids before he was incarcerated, and did not obtain a high school diploma. He and these kids would otherwise become a life long burden on society without a change in direction. I applaud the work being done with this program and hopefully will transform this young man into a productive individual and a good father keeping him from the dockets, supporting his own children, and being a good mentor to others. I certainly hope the young man sticks with it and doesn't succumb to peer pressure once released. He will need to motivate himself to gain a GED and job training.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rich GiddensMarch 15, 2014 - 10:35 am

    They are ''Jerry's kids' and ''the sons of Obama''.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • gmlgrahamMarch 15, 2014 - 4:11 pm

    "He that is without sin among you....TaxPayer & Victim Advocate and Mesc....let him cast the first stone." Jesus Christ!!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
County honors Meadows Trigueiro as Woman of the Year

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Police shut down Fairfield street after shooting

By Glen Faison | From Page: A1, 5 Comments | Gallery

 
Celebrity chef motivates Armijo students

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Bridge work to shut down Highway 12 east of Rio Vista

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

 
Highway 12 Association to meet this month

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

Caltrans reschedules work on J-Mack Ferry

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

 
State schedules work on Highway 12

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

 
 
 
Robots, raucous businessmen set to arrive on big screen

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

 
Teen hit by SUV remains in hospital

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
College looks at Measure Q project changes

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A9

 
 
Fairfield police log: March 2, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

Fairfield police log: March 1, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Feb. 28, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun police log: March 2, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: March 1, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Feb. 28, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Enrollment of non-residents to be capped at some UC campuses

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

.

US / World

California survey finds Sierra snowpack far below normal

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
California shuts down oil wells to protect ground water

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Ex-CIA chief admits sharing military secrets with mistress

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12 | Gallery

 
Netanyahu warns US ‘bad deal’ would put Iran on nuclear path

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Mines, bombs slow Iraqi advance on Islamic State-held Tikrit

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

India orders TV stations not to give rapist a platform

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Health officials perplexed by vaccination skeptics

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

Lawmakers taking another crack at expanding gun checks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
California lawmakers show wide discrepancy in missed votes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Agents target industry helping Chinese women have US babies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13 | Gallery

 
Family of girl declared brain-dead sues Oakland hospital

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

US marshals say man killed by Los Angeles police was wanted

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
72 passengers reach settlements in Asiana crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

.

Opinion

Editorial cartoon: March 3-4, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
Minority outreach that works

By Jennifer Rubin | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

 
Israelis worry about inequality, not Iran

By Daniel Gordis | From Page: A11, 3 Comments

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: March 4, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: March 4, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Mushrooms are nutrient-packed, with a deep, savory flavor

By The Washington Post | From Page: B5

 
Get ready to add white to the rainbow of produce you eat

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: March 4, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

My husband and I want different things in our retirement

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

 
.

Entertainment

Apollo to celebrate Holiday birthday

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Oprah’s Chicago studios to close down

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Fashion week moves Milan to Paris

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

.

Sports

Vanden girls roll, advance to SJS championship game

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1

 
Bumgarner hit hard in spring debut, A’s beat Giants 9-4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Pacquiao big hit so far in Vegas sports books vs Mayweather

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Kings bring back former player Divac in front-office role

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

No ‘floating rubbish’ collection for Olympic sailing venue

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Cal senior Reshanda Gray named Pac-12 Player of the Year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Rudy Gay, Kings hand Knicks worst loss of season, 124-86

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Cubs’ scramble on Wrigley Field hits bump when mayor balks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Raiders officially release S Tyvon Branch

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Trooper: Fingerprints show victim in Hernandez’s rented car

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Play ball! Quickly! Baseball tries to speed game this spring

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Australian rugby star Hayne signs 3-year deal with 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Maid: Hernandez messed with security camera after killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

Oil glut could soon lead to plummeting prices

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

 
.

Obituaries

Jacqueline Mendes

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Robert C. Thierry

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Garland (Curly) Henry Tackett

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Otto Vasak

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

John Henry Fechter, Jr.

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7