DEVORE - Dawn Frazier is enthusiastic about learning baking and cake decorating when she leaves the Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center here.

"I'm looking forward to taking culinary classes and eventually getting into baking and cake decorating," said Frazier, 40.

On Tuesday, Frazier attended a job fair at the detention center and talked to potential employers, learning real-life interview skills.

The all-day job fair is the last stop in the Inroads Program, a rehabilitation program that teaches living skills to men and women who have been incarcerated. About 400 inmates are in the program.

The fair gets inmates job-ready when they near the end of their sentence.

"It was a very good experience - something new," said Frazier, who is from Ontario. "It boosted my confidence. Since being incarcerated, I also learned I can draw."

Miriam Gomez, director of the Inroads Program, now in its 14th year, said it has been a great success.

"Our goal is to make these people better neighbors when they come out," said Gomez, who helped establish Inroads.

"They re-learn behavior and how to get back to their families and pay taxes."

All of the offenders attending Tuesday's job fair had already completed a job-training program (bakery, landscape crew) and had been identified as active job seekers.


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Their ability to secure gainful employment on their return to the community can be a critical factor in influencing whether or not they become a productive member of society or return to the criminal justice system.

"They learn how to interact with employers, how to present themselves as being employable," Gomez said. "Now they have an opportunity to think for themselves instead of being told what to do."

Inmates have an opportunity to practice their interview skills and build self-esteem, and every year four or five employers make a commitment to hire somebody from the program, according to Gomez.

The Inroads Job Fair was presented by the San Bernardino County Workforce Development and Sheriff's departments.

michel.nolan@inlandnewspapers.com
909-386-3859