East Palo Alto Re-Entry Program Saving Lives

By Cheryl Hurd
|  Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010  |  Updated 4:15 AM PDT
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East Palo Alto Re-Entry Program Saving Lives

Cheryl Hurd

Juan Villegas getting life back at the Easr Palo Alto reentry program.

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There are images from East Palo Alto that date back to the 90s that many would like to forget.   The images involved body bags, police tape and blood shed.

Juan Villegas admits he was part of the problem.

"I'm tired of being tired. Tired of going in and out of jail. It's time to change right now," Villegas said.

 Villegas is an ex con who is now a part of East Palo Alto's re-entry program for parolees.  He did three years behind bars.  Now he wants to be a productive part of society.

"My goal is to own my own home get a job and just do something different with my life, Villegas said.There are 250 people like Villegas who have gone through this program.  Of those 250, only 40 of them have gone back to prison.

Robert Hoover is the director of the program and he says he believes the program gives people a chance by showing them the basics, like how to put together a resume and apply for a drivers license.
   
Dr. Faye McNair-Knox runs a neighborhood improvement program.  She says the young people want to make a change.

"They told us what we didn't want to hear kind of like Steve Wonder you haven't done nothing all you non profit people.  Because if you did look how we live look at the pot holes we can't even get a job! So you want us to avoid crime violence and gang activity."

East Palo Alto police captain Carl Estelle says, "We're not declaring victory.  We know we have a long way to go.  We have to get to the root cause of some of these problems."


 

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