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SHARE Tolerance Program Is Now In Custody

Since its introduction to the general public in late 2008, the SHARE Tolerance program has been experienced by thousands of middle school and high school students throughout Los Angeles County. The program's initial focus of educating teens on the subject of Hate Crime Education and Tolerance had an extremely positive impact wherever it was taught.

Following its great success with students, the program was considered for inclusion in the custody environment as part of Sheriff Baca's vision for Education Based Incarceration. In early 2010, a special classroom was designed and built inside the walls of Men's Central Jail that would allow facilitation of the SHARE Tolerance program to inmate students.

The classroom at Men's Central Jail was created to essentially mirror the "street" version of the SHARE Tolerance program. The same vivid graphics that were used for the mobile learning trailer were installed on the walls of the jail classroom and the room was also equipped with state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment, including surround sound and a ceiling mounted projector. The resulting visual effect of the room has literally been stunning. Inmates who have participated in the program have remarked on the extremely "positive learning atmosphere" that has been created by the room design.

As is the case with the street version of the SHARE Tolerance program, the specially made SHARE Tolerance video remains the mainstay of the facilitation process. The classes, which are all facilitated by trained deputy and custody assistant personnel, begin with a brief overview of the current status of hate crimes being committed in Los Angeles County. After the video presentation, the Department personnel skillfully facilitate a follow up discussion with the inmates participating in the class. A simple pre/post test tool is administered to measure the level of understanding about hate crimes and to poll participants as to whether or not they had ever been victims of a hate crime. The test results consistently showed a gain in knowledge about hate crimes and intolerance, but also dramatically demonstrated that over 75% of participants had either been directly or indirectly victimized by hate crimes.

Since the inception of the Custody Program, hundreds of SHARE Tolerance classes have been presented to 3,244 inmate students within the walls of Men's Central Jail. Participants in the program have heaped praise on the curriculum not only for its ability to foster greater insight, understanding, and self-reflection regarding the issues of hate and intolerance in our communities, but within the jail as well. We are particularly proud of having brought together inmates of different classifications that have been traditionally segregated for their own safety.

Following their participation in the SHARE Tolerance classes, members from both the general population and self-identified gay inmates have literally reached across the table and shaken hands, acknowledging the positive impact of the program and their respect for one another. This is a literal demonstration of newfound tolerance within the custody environment. The impact of this training has been so successful that at the suggestion of inmates who have participating in the program, the curriculum will be facilitated by the staff at the Community Transition Unit to all inmates prior to release as part of their re-entry into general society.

It goes without saying that the custody presentations of the program are "grittier" than those generally discussed in the high school version of the program. Inmates participating in the classes are in a much different "place" than the kids who go through the school version. Many of them are experiencing this type of exposure to the issues of hate and intolerance in a classroom setting for the first time in their lives. By presenting this topic in an academic setting,

We have been able to objectively educate and influence inmates on hate crimes. Inmates have expressed not only that the program has had a positive impact on their outlook and perception, but that they also see the value in offering this class to others as well. Many have commented on the fact that all inmates should participate in the SHARE Tolerance program as a requirement for release back in to the community, and that it should be presented to female inmates as well. Since then, we have successfully launched SHARE at the Century Regional Detention Facility (CRDF) for women in Lynwood. It has been generally acknowledged that is important to educate the "matriarchs" of the family on this issue because they have a great level of influence on their children and other youth in their communities despite being incarcerated. Initial response from CRDF participants has been overwhelmingly positive.

Because outreach to youth has been a core goal of the SHARE Tolerance program, we have also facilitated this curriculum to at-risk youth who come through the facility on tours or visits. Participants have included over 700 youth from VIDA (Vital Intervention and Directional Alternatives), PICO PRIDE (Personal Responsibility in Development and Ethics), the Youth Activities League, and START (Sheriff's Teaching At Risk Teens). Without exception, teen participants have expressed that they recognize the destructive force of intolerance and its negative impact on their community.

Currently the Education Based Incarceration Bureau is working on expanding the custody version of the SHARE Tolerance program to include all Los Angeles County custody facilities as well as incorporating the SHARE Tolerance Program into the Community Transition Unit's pre-release process for inmates who will be reentering the community.

The SHARE Tolerance program has proven itself to be a valuable tool in the Department's efforts to educate people regarding the issues of hate, intolerance, and bigotry in our communities. The custody version of the program has also proven itself to be the next logical step in the development of this exciting educational effort that continues to grow and educate those in our communities. The program has been an outstanding addition to the Education Based Incarceration concept for our Department, and is paving the way for even greater successes in the years to come.

There have been unanticipated developments in the program design model as well. Inmates have taken ownership of the curriculum because they can see the actual and potential positive impact of the message, and they have begun to co-facilitate the program with custody personnel.

The Education Based Incarceration Bureau, is are very proud of the recognition the SHARE Tolerance Program has received in both our internal publications (STAR News, Year in Review) and in the local television news, but our greatest pride comes from the knowledge that this program is facilitated by our custody personnel on a voluntary basis. Men and women throughout the department have either witnessed the power of the program first-hand or have heard about the positive impact it is having, and more and more staff members are coming forward to support this endeavor as facilitators.

Contact Information:

Education Based Incarceration Bureau - (213) 473-2999

SHARE Tolerance Room at Men's Central Jail
SHARE Tolerance Room at Men's Central Jail

SHARE Tolerance class session at Men's Central Jail
SHARE Tolerance class session at Men's Central Jail

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