Twenty years ago, the idea of Alberto Vasquez as one of San Diego’s most inspirational community leaders may have seemed like something out of fiction. For more than 10 years, Alberto spent most of his time in and out of prisons.

“I was exposed to things no person should see while that young,” recalled Alberto.

This is a story all too common among San Diego’s at-risk communities. Unfortunately, not all San Diegans are able to change their course like Alberto did.

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s 2013 Outcome Evaluation Report, 66 percent of state prisoners paroled in San Diego County recidivated within three years of being paroled.

Why is this?

High re-incarceration rates are most often related to the services available after ex-offenders get out, instead of the individuals themselves. If most ex-offenders return to the same destructive environment that first got them into a harmful lifestyle, the odds are they will stumble right back to the same negative habits.

A pathway to education, sustainable housing, job support, mentorship and healthcare are all part of the solution.

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For Alberto, the turnaround can be attributed to the support he received from San Diego City College. For many others, it’s the availability of San Diego programs such as Second Chance or San Diego Youth Services.

Whichever it may be, the proof is undeniable. Numerous studies show that ex-offenders that receive support from re-entry programs and services are significantly less likely to recidivate than those left without support.

Today, Alberto serves as a role model and mentor for students that are facing two paths – street life or college life.

Working Together to Reduce Recidivism

In an effort to change the cyclical nature of recidivism, and curb the consequences it has on San Diego’s economy and communities, government leaders, businesses, academia, philanthropy and nonprofit organizations are joining forces to identify the root causes and provide solutions for long-term impact.

To support this movement, we encourage you to give to one of the following organizations serving at-risk individuals in the region. Or donate to The San Diego Foundation System Involved Youth Fund.

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