A local program for repeat offenders of non-violent offenses is proving to be a success in giving them a second chance, especially when others may have given up on them.
The alternative sentencing program is a joint effort between a handful of services throughout our community.
Nonprofit organization Second Chance helps bring this all together with a judge, the District Attorney's office, public defenders, law enforcement, and drug abuse treatment providers, as well as the UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry.
It’s a five-stage program that runs between 18 months to three years.
It’s made like that for good reason. Studies have shown the longer the person is in a treatment program, the more successful they’ll be.
The chosen participants start at a treatment center and sober living housing, continuous drug testing and job training programs.
Then they eventually move on to their own housing after finding steady employment.
Ali Rammal is a graduate of the program and was looking at seven years in prison when he started down this alternative path.
“Eight or nine years ago I was down in the dumps. I was at the bitter end. I was either staying at a hotel or staying in somebody’s garage or somebody’s house," Rammal told NBC 7. "Now, I live in my own house, got my own place and being responsible and taking care of things."
Now Rammal has a home for his family and steady employment.
He and his boss are looking at opening another business together where he will become a partner.
“These are some of the people who probably society has given up on. These are some of the people that have maybe given up on themselves. But we believe given the right opportunities, people have the chance to change,” added Howard Foster, Senior Program Manager for the Reentry Court Program.
Rammal hasn’t had any problems with the law in nine years, since before he started the program.
About 20 people graduate from the program each year. Rammal now gives back to Second Chance and participants by donating fabrics that are made into suits for job interviews.
For more information on the San Diego County Reentry Program, click here.