To: Freedom Through Education
When I first moved to Sacramento, from the state of Indiana, I was moving to a completely new environment. I had committed my crime in Indiana and through the assistance of my parents, they found Freedom Through Education. Dr. Bill Lane secured housing for me on a phone call and promise by my parents. I was nervous, because my only experience of living with other felons was from prison and prison isn’t a great living situation.
However, I was impressed. The staff was very welcoming and friendly and would go out of their way to help in any way they could. The houses were well maintained and clean and the other individuals in the house were friendly, respectful and all had the mindset of transitioning and fixing their lives and becoming productive individuals in society.
During my stay at the Freedom Through Education Transitional Living Program, I participated in therapy and counseling classes with case manager Leo Soria, which really helped in my recovery. I did have my ups and downs of course, but that was more from employment; getting hired and then immediately losing my jobs or getting a job and then losing it due to a global pandemic.
However, in December of 2020, Johnny Lujan now the CEO at Freedom Through Education came to me and said that he had a contact for a class, that did advanced computer training. I was skeptical, because the tech world, like many professional jobs, seemed closed off to individuals with a record. However, I took the class and got introduced to the Back 2 Work program and the startup technology company Bitwise.
I am currently writing this during my lunch break. I am currently employed at Bitwise, after successfully graduating from their class and being accepted into their Apprenticeship program. Hopefully in another five months I will be a full-time employee at Bitwise. I will be forever grateful to Freedom Through Education for giving me a chance at transition, helping me get back on my feet and believing in me enough to introducing me to this amazing experience and company. I am now actually excited about my future.
The good people at SMUD care about the neighbors they serve. One way they show that is by offering support to further neighborhood clean-ups - something Freedom Through Education is passionate about too.
The SHINE grant enables us to continue doing our jobs making the neighbors proud to live near us in South Sacramento. We use the funds to buy safety equipment and other necessary tools for our men to use while working on clean up day once a month. The men who volunteer with us on that Saturday are treated to a nice BBQ with the staff as they revel in helping their neighbors appreciate where we all live. You've never seen a more grateful man than the one that is out of prison that can now use his hands to help his neighbors. SMUD and SHINE help make that possible!
Freedom Through Education expanded their services to include a much needed home for women. Located in the North Highlands area of Sacramento, it will house as many as six women and a house manager (and a few small children as needed).
"We have a vision for women that are in need - from those that have been incarcerated, those that may have been homeless, to those leaving destructive life choices," says Johnny Lujan - CEO.
Freedom Through Education hosts a celebration for the men (past and present) that have achieved milestones to rebuilding their lives with the tools we have provided has provided.
We want to recognize them in front of their families and support network. 7 men will be especially recognized for going above and beyond in three categories:
We are fond of doing service projects with our clients - many of whom like giving back to the community that surrounds them. Here are three slide shows of recent projects we think you will enjoy seeing. Our neighborhood clean-ups are monthly!
As the President, Bill Lane, Ph.D oversees the entire organization. He plays a key role in overseeing the budget, expansion, policies changes, works with various local, state and federal agencies, sits on several committees, organizes and network of local providers and stays involved with the clients to ensure the fidelity of the program. Bill also mentors the staff and facilitates a weekly staff meeting and training.
Dr. Lane is currently the President of Freedom Through Education, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving high-risk youth and adults with the services necessary to develop into successful men and women of society. Previously Dr. Lane was the Administrator for the Sacramento Community Based Coalition (SCBC) – a transition program for adults being paroled to Sacramento County from State prison. As a nationally recognized consultant and motivational speaker for high-risk youth and adults,
Bill has over 30 years background working with the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated adults and juveniles. Bill has an A.A. in Business Administration, a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies, a M.S. in Educational Administration and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration, with an emphasis in high-risk youth education and criminal delinquency.
Bill was a full-time teacher for the California Youth Authority and in 1995 transferred to San Quentin State Prison where he became the head of education. After leaving San Quentin, Bill worked for the California Department of Education as a program consultant for school districts, county offices of education, and juvenile justice programs throughout California for high-risk youth education. Bill has worked extensively with Local Education Agencies on collaborating with Probation and Community Based Organizations to develop the highest quality of educational services possible.
We think you will want to read the article in it's entirety.
"They sit in the circle, the man who exposed himself to at least 100 women, next to the man who molested his stepdaughter, across from the man who sexually assaulted his neighbor. The group includes Matt, whose online chats led to prison; Rob, who was arrested for statutory rape; and Kevin, who spent decades masturbating next to women in movie theaters."
At Freedom Through Education, we are privileged to work with some men that are like the ones this story refers to. Imagine living in a society where housing is hard to find for a normal person (there is a 6 month waiting list in Sacramento for apartments currently). Now add convicted ex felon onto that. It is now 8x harder to find a residence. And finally, add that your crime was a sex offense and that you are a registered sex offender. It just got near impossible to find a place to live.
Even if you complete our (or other) programs for reentry into society. Even if you have had no trouble with the law since being released. Even if you comply with parole conditions so well, they lower your risk assessment. And yes, even if historically there is little to no evidence nationally of recidivism for this type of crime. Even with all that going for you, society still treats you worse than all other ex offenders.
The link is below to the original full article. We offer it to help you understand some of the men we work with better. See what you think. And let's talk. We could use your help in changing the way these men are treated.
almostEliasar “Leo” Soria serves Freedom Through Education as an Alcohol and Other Drugs counselor/case-manager. For the 12 men residing at Munyer House he conducts individual screening and assessments, facilitating individual one on ones and leading the men in through group sessions.
He develops custom treatment plans and records progress notes, and other things to ensure clients follow their parole and treatment plans. This can lead to him modifying treatment activities and approaches for the men to comply with changes in their status.
Leo completed Foundations, Practices, Competence studies in 2010 at the California Association of Addiction Resources (CAARR). He also attended Braining Institute where he received his Registered Addiction Specialist (RAS) credential in 2012.
In his own words on why he took this career path:
I’m sharing a short story to give honor and glory to my Savior, Jesus Christ.
I’m recovering from childhood verbal and physical abuse which led me to be a long-time drug and alcohol abuser. My way of dealing with anger issues was using violence and staying high to numb my shame that I carried from my past. I got tired of going in and out of jail and finally lost my self-control to my addiction because I put it first, before my wife and two kids, almost sending me to prison for “great bodily harm to an individual”. As a result, my wife, understandably, wanted a divorce. By then I had a 12-year heroin and cocaine addiction that was taking my life.
My turning point was in March 1993 when I asked Jesus to help me out of my addiction and He did. The very next day I was delivered completely - no withdrawals whatsoever, which showed me Jesus was real and is why I’m a Christian today.
Today I am grateful to be working at Freedom Through Education with CDCR clients coming out of prison. Many struggle with addiction, others with shame and guilt from their past, and some clients grew up in dysfunctional homes that led to a lifetime of crime. I am privileged to see the men learn social skills, deal with self-control, reconnect with family and learn responsibilities (and more). I am blessed to fit in with this team at FTE so well.
Remember that banquet we had to raise funds for the new beds at our Freedom House USA Apartments? Here's a photo story of the event.
A year ago, KLOVE radio interviewed our founder, Dr. Bill Lane, for National Reentry Week. Bill explained what the problem our culture faces with men coming out of prison and what we do to combat that problem. It's a great listen if you click on the link to the audio at the bottom of page.