Like every other part of our lives in the days of Pandemic 2020, life at Saint John’s Custody to Community Transitional Reentry Program (CCTRP) has found a new status quo. Everything has been affected from the way clients arrive, the daily chores, classes, employment, shopping, schooling, and even when they leave.
Arrival. Today, as I write this blog, we are welcoming five new clients arriving from two different institutions. Typically, those five new clients would be spread out among our 14 dorm rooms. Now, all five will be housed together as they begin their 14-day quarantine. Even though they arrive from prison with a recent negative COVID-19 test result, they will still be quarantined for the first 14 days. That means that all of their meals will be delivered to their rooms. Twice a day they will have a designated 30-minute shower schedule. They also will have a set schedule when they can use the laundry facilities or go into the backyard without other clients present. No classes. No interaction with others. This is but one of many steps taken to ensure everyone remains safe and healthy.
Since the start of the pandemic, our clients attending college do that remotely (like every other Los Rios District college student). We have gone from an average of five college students to nine students. Our computer lab remains a quiet place of work and study.
Typically, all of our CCTRP clients are allowed to go to Walmart once a month to shop for basic necessities (toiletries, clothes, snacks). But, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has cancelled those trips during the pandemic. To ameliorate this situation, the clients are allowed to receive a monthly “COVID BOX” containing toiletries, laundry soap and personal items. But, not all of our clients have family members who can ship or drop off such packages – so Saint John’s provides to make certain that no one is without those necessary items.
Because of the pandemic, the CDCR has slowed and limited the movement of inmates throughout the state. In practical terms for us here at CCTRP, it means we have had more clients going out the door than arriving. Typically, our 50-bed capacity facility averages 49 clients throughout the year. For the summer months of 2020 our census has been in the low 30s. Fewer clients actually makes things more difficult rather than less. The program is designed to operate with 50 clients, performing 50 daily chores. With 15 fewer clients, and a need for extra cleaning and disinfecting, many clients double-up on their daily chores.
In the midst of this massive shift in operations, the goals and outcomes remain the same; “unleash the potential of women in crises.” That is the constant. Lives continue to be changed through the application of Saint John’s core values of courage, effort, gratitude, community, respect, growth and love.