A man who spent years in San Diego County jail on drug charges returned to the facility where he spent time behind bars to give a "sense of hope" to other inmates.
Travis Durbin, 43, credits the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department's reentry programs with helping him set a course of redemption that has allowed him to become a counselor at a high school in Porterville, Calif.
Recently, he returned to the East Mesa Reentry Facility in Otay Mesa to speak with other inmates.
“It was a goal of mine to come back in here and be able to provide that same sense of hope to these guys,” Durbin said.
Durbin spent 18-months at the reentry facility, taking advantage of the more than three-dozen specific programs. He has since earned a college degree and is now working toward a Master’s degree in social work.
“Providing reentry services is a critical component of public safety," SDSO spokesperson Melissa Aquino said. "It is better for these men and women to be prepared to reenter society so future crimes can be avoided and future victims can be spared."
The programs include computer literacy and job readiness, landscaping and construction trades and culinary arts. Durbin cites cognitive behavior theory and parenting courses he took.
“I can be a better dad because I want to be a better person," Durbin said. "I can be a better son, I can be a better husband, I can do all of those things, but it had to start with me."
Durbin said there is anxiety and pressure for inmates about to reenter society. He hopes to convince those inmates to seek out support services.
“They don’t really want to see you come back in here. They want to see you go out and be productive," Durbin said.
According to Patricia Ceballos, Reentry Services Assistant Manager at the East Mesa Reentry Facility, there has been a 38-percent return to custody rate for San Diego County inmates.
Durbin is hoping to help reduce that number.
“I just hope they can take a little bit of peace and know that it will be alright, you can get out there and you have the ability and a choice to be productive again,” said Durbin