Collette Carroll Named "CNN Hero"


"Every Life is Worth Helping"

Aug 25, 2015, 08:00 ET from California Reentry Institute

CLAYTON, Calif., Aug. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Collette Carroll, founder and President of the California Reentry Institute (CRI) a Clayton, CA based Pre and Post release program for inmates serving in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation at San Quentin State Prison has been named a CNN Hero.

CNN Heroes is an award-winning television special created by CNN to honor individuals who make extraordinary contributions to humanitarian aid and make a difference in their communities.

CRI's mission is to prepare and support men through the transition from incarceration to freedom with the goal of helping them become contributing members of society. CRI is funded entirely by individual contributions and through revenue received from the organization's "2nd Chance Boutique" at 4305 Clayton Road, Concord, CA.

"We believe that with preparation and support, the cycle of incarceration can be broken," Carroll said. "We try to demystify everything so that when these men do get out, they feel empowered to succeed. Our biggest challenge now is to raise enough money to serve a bigger segment of the prison population and provide more reentry houses to make sure that these men have the support needed to be become an asset to society. We really can make a meaningful difference."

Carroll said CRI believes that it takes a minimum of 18 months to two years to prepare for release from prison. An experienced team created a strong curriculum designed to provide education and life skills. The program is voluntary, requires a minimum 24 month commitment and has a strict attendance policy.

Once released, CRI helps its graduates transition from incarceration to freedom with services that include job training, case management and other programs and services to ensure the men stay on course.

The four planks of the program include:

  • Pre-release preparation
  • A safe place to be released to
  • A job and/or assistance with college
  • Ongoing support

CRI's team has been supporting men in their reentry for over 15 years. CRI has successfully graduated one class after 27 months of hard work and is close to completing its second program. The current class has 50 participants. None of the men who are part of the CRI post-release program have returned to prison.

Identifying The Need

Carroll first started working with San Quentin inmates in 1994, as part of her late husband's ministry. She helped start a self-help group in the prison in 2000 and launched the California Reentry Institute in 2009.

"Over the years I saw a greater need for a more intensive pre and post release program," Carroll said. "We spend an entire year alone on emotions so that these men can learn the causative factors of what got them where they are in the first place, to understand the pain and suffering that their actions caused."

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, an estimated 6,899,000 persons were under the supervision of adult correctional systems at year end 2013. If recent incarceration rates remain unchanged, an estimated 1 in every 15 persons will serve time in State or Federal prison during their lifetime ( Recidivism remains a major problem. The Department of Justice estimates that, without intervention, 70% of all prisoners paroled will reoffend and return to prison. California is expected to spend $60,000 per year for each inmate (Department of Finance & Legislative Analysts Office).

For testimonies from those who have participated in the program, visit and click on Stories.

CRI will hold its annual fundraiser September 19 at the Shadelands Art Center in Walnut Creek, California, at 5:00. Visit to sign up or call 925-549-1416 to reserve a spot. The evening includes food, wine, dancing and testimonies as well as live auction items.

For more information or to donate to CRI, contact:
Collette Carroll
California Reentry Institute
P.O. Box 51
Clayton CA 94517

Media Contact:
Jonelle Sullivan

SOURCE California Reentry Institute