SALINAS, Calif. (KION) The Monterey County Sheriff's Office is partnering with United Way to offer a new financial courses for inmates. These and other program efforts are meant to help prepare inmates for re-entry into society once released.
It is all in hopes that learning life skills will keep them out for good.
Some of the things these inmates are going to be learning in these classes include budgeting during tough times, like the COVID-19 pandemic, setting financial goals for themselves as well as learning basic banking knowledge.
"If I didn't have (these) programs, I wouldn't have any hope. I'd be coming back in and out," said Waldo Mendoza Espinoza, an inmate.
Espinoza has been an inmate at the Monterey County jail for 17 months. While being behind bars is not ideal, one thing it has given Espinoza is fewer distractions and more focus.
It also offered him something priceless in his eyes: life skills classes.
"These classes have opened up a new path for me. Because before, I was having trouble with certain issues that I've had from the past growing up," said Espinoza.
Espinoza has taken anger, family and relationships and food safety classes already to prepare him for life outside the bars.
He is now interested in taking a financial literacy course put on by United Way and the sheriff's office. Officials say many inmates have never learned the basics.
"You know, they're just used to using the money and go spend it right away. So I think it's important to educate them on the dollar and understand how that dollar can go a long way and how you save and what areas should you save," said Dasilva.
"What we seem to see is they have financial difficulties, they have poor credit, they don't know how to manage accounts, they don't have the skills or didn't want the skills on how to run the financial aspects of an adult life. And that's what we're hoping to pass on in this partnership with United Way," said Chief Deputy John Thornburg of the Monterey County Sheriff's Office.
And at least from one perspective, the programs seem to be going a long way.
"I've seen less and less people that used to come in every two or three months, now with these programs, they're actually staying out. So obviously, these programs are making a difference in people's lives," said Espinoza.
And these classes are both going to be given in English and Spanish. They are expected to start in the next few weeks.
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The Sheriff's Office said it will be starting a financial stability course for inmates in the next couple weeks, and staff hope that it will help them prepare for re-entry after their release.
Course instructors teach:
- Budget during and after the COVID-19 pandemic
- How to set and reach financial goals
- Understanding and repairing credit scores
- Understanding basic banking and financial options
- Tips for increasing income
- Importance of quality childcare and subsidies
Both instructors are bilingual, and the United Way's financial literacy education workshops are free.