NASW-CA’s Rehabilitation and Inclusion Council Report

 

Eric Escareno

In an effort to bring awareness to the forefront, and align previous and current reform efforts, the NASW-CA’s Rehabilitation and Inclusion Council would like to engage NASW members and Community members and partners.

  • The Rehabilitation and Inclusion Council seeks to promote and attain parity in career and higher education opportunities for rehabilitated persons with criminal records through social and political action.
  • We are social workers dedicated to ensuring our NASW Code of Ethics universally applies to both our colleagues and the clients/consumers we serve.

Every month, the Council will introduce one of their member’s short bio. We embark on this journey to encapsulate the face of rehabilitation in an effort at destigmatizing students and professionals with criminal records, who have since rehabilitated. We invite NASW members, community members and community partners to dialogue. Contact ricouncil@naswca.org.

Meet Council Member Erik James Escareño

“Being raised in a family associated with gangs, it can be difficult to stray onto a different path,” recalls Escareno. “I was addicted to many drugs by the age of nine and endured many traumas. At the age of 16, I was homeless and turning tricks to survive. I was in a constant state of self-preservation and self-medicating, which led to being found in a dumpster in Pasadena and being charged with five felonies, a strike and facing eight to12 years in prison.

“Judge Morris in Pasadena saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself and sentenced me to treatment, even though none of my charges were drug related. That hope, coupled with my surrender to my addiction, provided the opportunity to succeed. It was an uphill battle, but I was able to do it. I have been clean for nearly 14 years now, and since then have received two AA degrees, two BA degrees, and soon an MSW degree to become a teacher, mentor and volunteer in my community.

“My life aspiration is to be able to give back to my community what was graciously give to me. I am the first in my family to get a degree. My life is so rich because of my past experience that allows me to relate to my clients on a different level. Often, employers look to my record to define me; it is up to me to prove them otherwise. My record only tells me where my limits are so that I can reach beyond them.”

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