BY JASON COATES
At the Farm’s House restaurant on Monday, Mary Hamlin spoke before the California Retired Teachers Association (CalRTA) about the struggles of transition from incarceration to freedom, and why jail should be avoided altogether.
Hamlin would rather not have her clothes sizes displayed on the back of her shirts, as is the case for all prisoners. Nor would she prefer to sleep on a three-inch mattress.
Hamlin is a workshop founder and CEO of the Pass Job Connection, credited with over 15 years in workforce and employment development. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Georgia State University, a master’s degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix University, and is an award-winning speaker and trainer.
The group of retired teachers sat around tables decorated with foil - wrapped chocolate hearts, raffle tickets and lunch. If there were any warm fuzzy feelings in the atmosphere, they slowly dissolved as Hamlin revealed the nature of her purpose: she has been making it her duty to reach out to convicts.
A few people shuddered when they heard that breakfast in one correctional facility is served at 3:30 a.m.
If an inmate is fortunate enough, lunch consists of a hot sausage. Soda and fried food are non-existent, while dinner is usually a cold bologna sandwich.
One of the more gourmet concoctions, Hamlin said, consists of ramen noodle packets mixed with crushed commissary chips to make pizza crusts.
Additionally, there was a call for volunteers to offer inspiration, soft - covered books, GED tutoring and job placement assistance.
According to Hamlin, many inmates are former construction workers with too much down time, who turned to drugs or alcohol which led to bad decisions.
Hamlin made humorous mention of the additional respect earned as a former teacher while volunteering. “If you want to be loved and appreciated by your students, go to jail.”
Anyone wanting more information related to job placement after jail time may visit: http://www.passjobconnection.org/
Staff writer Jason Coates may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (951) 849-4586 ext. 117.