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Education for a Second Chance

The power of Second Chances is highlighted in this compelling video featuring men & women who have experienced life-changing transformation in Freedom to Choose programs.

“Changing cultures is not easy, but you can see it happening by the state of the women.” – Rick Roney, Chairperson of SB Re-Entry Committee


Success Stories

“Susan” was serving a life sentence for attempted murder. When we met her she had been incarcerated for 14 years, and was in her early 30’s. She told us that up until she took the Freedom to Choose workshop she didn’t care about anyone. She was angry and sullen. Freedom to Choose changed all that. She kept coming back to the workshops and told us how she was using the skills to repair broken relationships with her family. She was estranged from her father who hadn’t spoken to her since she had been incarcerated. Through using her skills she discovered a sense of worthiness that allowed her to take full responsibility for her crime, to feel the pain and remorse of the victims, and ultimately to make a decision to become a responsible citizen. After several denials by the parole board, she was found suitable. Upon return to society she immediately began completing her bachelor’s degree while simultaneously enrolling in a master’s degree program. She now lives with and cares for her formerly estranged father, and has successfully graduated with a master’s degree. She has created a new life for herself.


Video Interviews

Participants from a Community Project in Santa Barbara share about their experience of the Freedom to Choose Workshop.

PARTICIPANT VIDEO INTERVIEW: ANGEL

Angel shares about the value of Freedom to Choose for himself, his family, and his work with gang members in Santa Barbara, CA. This interview was filmed immediately after his first Freedom to Choose workshop in May 2011. Watch video >>

PARTICIPANT VIDEO INTERVIEW: VERONICA

“Freedom to Choose saved my life.” Veronica shares about the value she received from Freedom to Choose both while in prison, and when she returned home. (Veronica was in the award-winning Freedom to Choose documentary.) This interview was filmed immediately after her first Freedom to Choose workshop in the “free world” in Santa Barbara, CA, May 2011. Watch video >>

PARTICIPANT VIDEO INTERVIEW: JEFF

Jeff shares about the unexpected value of Freedom to Choose in his life. This interview was filmed immediately after his first Freedom to Choose workshop in June 2011. Watch video >>

PARTICIPANT VIDEO INTERVIEW: RON

Ron talks about the value of Freedom to Choose for himself as a Custody Deputy in Santa Barbara, CA. This interview was filmed immediately after his first Freedom to Choose workshop in 2011. Watch video >>


Research & Statistics

In March 2009 Freedom to Choose was successfully piloted with men and women on probation in Santa Barbara County, California. In a survey completed at the end of the introductory course, 94% of the participants indicated they would take the workshop again if offered, and would invite their family, friends or co-workers to attend. This is especially notable since 67% of these participants were required to attend this program, and seemed initially reluctant to participate.

Inmate participants at Valley State Prison for Women were queried six months after the program. 98% reported their lives have improved (p<0.001) and 91% experienced less conflict (p<0.001). Based on data from follow-up surveys, Freedom to Choose appears to reduce the risk for repeat offenses, and fosters long-term changes in participants. One measure of the effectiveness of this approach is reflected by the finding that 84% of the participants have taught the skills learned in the program to their friends and family (p<0.001).


Testimonials

What inmate participants from Valley State Prison for Women have to say…

“I am going to use this stuff in my personal life to communicate with my husband. What you can do inside of yourself really has the potential to change the world.”

“I enjoy the place of inner peace and freedom. I have been able to use tools for communicating to prevent violent situations in this violent environment. This workshop has been a huge stepping-stone in my journey. I treasure the inner strength and peace that I’ve found within those two days. I only wish it was something I could attend on a weekly basis. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

“It has helped me and I didn’t think anything would help me.”

“It’s funny that the most loving place on earth I have ever experienced was the gym at VSPW, where the Freedom to Choose workshop was held.” – Parolee

“It’s the best experience you’ll have in or out of prison.”

“My intention is to continue to learn and grow as I help others. This workshop has helped me in almost every area of my life and it has changed my life. I want others to have this life-changing opportunity and to realize that life can be good or even great again—and it starts here with us giving not only to ourselves but to each other.”

What Santa Barbara County Community Program participants shared…

“I am proud of myself. What I just did right here… These are feelings that I used to ‘get loaded’ for. I wanted to run out of the room and sock something, but I didn’t. I sat on my hands, and I was able to be more with my feelings. WOW – I don’t want to escape anymore! I’ve been in a lot of therapy, and nothing’s got me to the point I’m at today… I’m feeling peace and I’ve never felt that before in my life.” – Participant

“I honestly couldn’t believe just how free I feel after the two-day process. It has shown me how to deal with my fear and broken pieces of my life’s path and be able to move on without any guilt.” – Participant

“The greatest value I received is that I no longer have to suffer with old issues that continue to create addiction.” – Participant
“Freedom to Choose saved my life…” – Veronica (Click to see Video Interview)

“The greatest value I received in Freedom to Choose is the relief of letting stuff go… I think everyone would benefit from it.” – Participant
“I realized I had issues of feeling disrespected, betrayed and let down by important people in my life. Today, I have forgiven them and myself.”
– County Staff Member

“This is a really great opportunity… I work with a lot of teens and a lot of youth, involving gangs… it’s going to really help me out…” – Angel (Click to see Video Interview)

“Wow, we’re all still ‘buzzing’ about the seminar in Santa Barbara! Not only is the information important for the inmates, but also for us personally! It was so much more informative than expected, and done so professionally. Thank you more than words can express!” – Alcohol & Drug Counselor

“You created a space where I felt validated for expressing courage. I felt that I could not fail, that as long as I showed up authentically I would be welcomed – and I was. The skills and processes you taught are so valuable. I have been using them with myself and in relationships with others. I… feel more skillful in communicating as a result of last week.” – Homeless Outreach Staff