This is a personal interview that I conducted with a woman whom is a case manager for a non-profit organization, called Health Right 360. Carla Johnson works exclusively with women on probation that have been mandated to participate in the (AB) 109 Bill. Miss Johnson shared with me what a day consists of working with these women The interview started with Carla sharing information regarding this program, how it came to exist and its impact upon these women. Carla explained to me that “In 2011, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed Assembly Bill (AB) 109 and AB 117, historic legislation that has helped California to close the revolving door of low-level inmates cycling in and out of state prisons” (n.d.). This means “Assembly Bill 109 establishes the California Public Safety Realignment Act of 2011 which allows for current non-violent, non-serious, and non-sex offenders, who after they are released from California State prison, are to be supervised at the local County level.
Instead of reporting to state parole officers, these offenders are to report to local county probation officers” (n.d.). This means more opportunities for those that have been incarcerated for low level crimes. After speaking with Miss Johnson, she shared that the main focus of her job is recruitment, referrals and advocacy. Networking and collaborating with potential resource agencies is time consuming and it is not always immediately productive to the needs of her clients. Miss Johnson shared that her typical day depends on the needs of her client’s at that time. It begins with an initial meeting while they are in jail. Clients are assessed and subsequently determinations are made on their behalf specific to their needs. This ranges from making sure that consents are signed by the clients so that she may work on their behalf. Carla finds referrals to other agencies to address each client’s needs. For example, job training and placement, workshops for resume building, mock interviews and professional attire and grooming.
Miss Johnson also helps women obtain legal documentation, such as social security card and identification or drivers license. Miss Johnson’s client population base are women that have completed their prison sentence, been released and are now mandated to participate in the (AB) 109 probation program. These women range from 18 to 80. This program is designed to assist in rehabilitation and assistance in mainstreaming into society in a productive manner. “The goal is that probationers under felony probation supervision will be appropriately supervised and that through the use of evidence-based supervision practices, the probation officer will offer the probationer the best opportunity to successfully re-enter the community without re-offending” (n.d.).
Miss Johnson’s biggest motivation in the human service industry is being able to witness women transform their lives and become contributing members of society. It was clearly evident during our interview Miss Johnson is passionate about her job, when she shared “I love working with women and seeing the growth and transformation in their lives” Carla was asked what kinds of obstacles, and some of the controversial issues that she faces as a human service worker.
She shared the difficult task of obtaining funds for these women because of their past criminal history and the nature of their crime. Also social stigma and lack of formal training can be challenging and contribute to the shortage of funding or services these women face. Another issue she deals with daily is the low levels of education amongst these women and finding services that address their educational needs such as GED classes, job skills training, and computer courses. This is imperative to their overall success. These tasks are challenging and complex. Also locating and obtaining affordable housing or assisted living, because of their limited income sources and backgrounds can be difficult. She shared that she is consistently challenged by the limitations of resources that are placed on my clients. These obstacles often impede their progress to successfully integrate back into society to where they do not feel that they have to return to their past criminal behaviors in order to survive.
As the interview ended, and with the information that Miss Johnson shared, It became clear that I would not like having to deal with referrals that placed limitations in helping clients based upon their background, however what I liked and found motivating is the knowing that through hard work and commitment that my role as a human service worker could be instrumental in helping individuals change their lives in a positive manner. As we concluded the interview, she smiled brightly and replied “I love working with these women, they are grateful and motivated. It was very educational and inspiring interview with Miss Johnson. It was found that (AB) 109 has many opportunities for individuals that want to change their life and lifestyle. As a human service worker, you have the responsibility to provide services that individuals need to be successful. For Miss Johnson it has been challenging to find ways to overcome the limited resources that are available; however it does not stop her commitment or determination.
Los Angeles County Probation Department-Adult Services-Supervision. (n.d.). Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://probation.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/probation Realignment Report. (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2015, from http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/realignment/