Owen Duckworth, who was formerly incarcerated, was able to get his life on track, secure a job and become a positive role model. Through this experience, he realized that others struggled with re-entry because they did not have the resources and support that they needed. Where Duckworth received support from friends and family, allowing him to change negative behaviors, others found themselves slipping back into their old lives.

When the County of San Bernardino launched a peer model program for prisoners preparing for reentry, Duckworth was asked to participate. He worked a cohort within the program for 18 months and saw its potential for increasing success. Recidivism in his cohort was reduced from 27% to 8%.

“I wanted to come back and create a positive impact, helping those who needed the tools,” Duckworth said. “Once the program ended with the county, I started my own organization in 2015.”

Today, Inland Empire Rebound (IE Rebound) offers evidence-based services for people in re-entry who are willing to embrace a second chance. The program works to ensure that participants find employment and housing while pursuing their goals which can include education, family reunification and financial stability.

Through intensive case management, the organization identifies clients’ needs for long-term growth and success. Working with clients’ families, government agencies and supporting nonprofits, IE Rebound creates comprehensive and collaborative strategies that eliminate barriers and challenges.

“I am able to meet my clientele at their point of need and let them know that they have an organization that is there for them,” Duckworth said. “That’s the most important thing  – knowing that you have someone who is not going to judge but come alongside you as you reconnect with the community.”

IE Rebound works with youth as well as adults. The organization begins working with clients 120-190 days before they are scheduled for reentry and begins assessing the tools they need. This may be anger management coaching, mental health support, family reunification, employment and housing.

This level of support can have a tremendous impact when clients embrace it, according to Duckworth. One client was a young man who went to prison at the age of 16 and served 31 years. He was able to go back to college, secure employment and spend time giving back to the community.

Another young lady who has been in the program for three years was reunited with her children, secured steady employment and bought a vehicle, which is something Duckworth said she never believed she could do.

“A lot of times people don’t realize that these people need a second chance,” Duckworth said. “The biggest gap is understanding there is a problem of mental health. They are in this position because they have been dropped there or led there and are not getting the help that they need.”

Recently, IE Rebound received an IE Black Equity Fund grant through the Inland Empire Community Foundation.  Support from this grant allowed the organization to offer life skills training and services to individuals who had no other means of support. Currently, IE Rebound serves around 200 clients including 80 youth.

IE Rebound depends on grants and donations to provide support to clients. The organization provides backpacks of school supplies to the children of clients, holiday meal packages, back-to-school haircuts and other services to help parents rebuild their relationships with their families. Community members can help with in-kind donations and services. Mentors for transitional youth in need of guidance and moral support are also welcome.

“We are here, and we want to help those in the reentry population,” Duckworth said. “It’s all about collaboration and coming together so that we can help these individuals get back on track.”

More information: https://www.ierebound.org/ or 909-474-9212

This article originally appeared in the Press Enterprise, January 2023.

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