Senior year of high school Julio started using inhalants. He was bored. A friend offered him gold spray paint. He inhaled, and got a buzz. He liked it. Thus began his recreational use of inhalants. He had good grades in school. And he was doing what he loved, he had always wanted to play soccer, and he was good; being the #6 leading scorer his junior year, and All State. And he was maintaining a 3.0 grade point average.
He arrived at college, with a full financial aid scholarship. He needed this. He was being raised by his father's parents, as his dad was doing time for accidentally shooting his mother when Julio was 3 or 4. His inhalant usage manifested into an addiction. Julio threw it all away. He flunked out of college, and was kicked out of school, losing all his financial aid.
By the time he was 30, Julio had been arrested 15 or 20 times, he has lost count. This last time he was given an offer to try a new type of incarceration. A place where the inmates are called students and even though it's a fully secure facility, he finds he feels at home there.
The Second Chance Center is a secure long-term residential rehab and transition program providing an alternative for the judiciary to traditional sentencing to jails and prisons, located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The program was started by Rick Pendery, a drug rehab veteran, who had piloted a similar program in two Mexican prisons for over five years. "The intent of the program is to restore personal integrity and self-esteem in the inmates, and stem the rising rate of recidivism," explained the CEO of the center, Rick Pendery.
"After arriving at Second Chance on September 7th of 2006," Julio explains, "I tried to maintain optimism about being able to successfully function in a sober manner. But with so many failed attempts in the 30 years of my life haunting my memory, my excitement level was low. All at once I noticed the straightforward attitude of the staff and their warm confident receiving of myself that screamed nothing but success. I perceived a vibration that no matter what has occurred in the past or where I'd failed at in life, if I would just allow myself this opportunity, things would be different, and I would not fail!"
"It's been a step by step process in getting to where I am now from where I was at the beginning." Julio continues. "At times, the only assurance I had that I was still making progress and being productive was by taking my supervisors' word that I would get through it. It's never been an easy program to follow. The idea is simple. But actually doing it is not at all a piece if cake. It takes a lot of hard work and it's this hard effort made which requires sincere dedication and discipline."
A unique prison rehabilitation model inside the criminal justice system, The Second Chance Program specifically addresses common deficits found in offenders with substance abuse histories, such as cognitive behavioral skills, life skills, and the development of moral values and restoration of self-esteem, which have been found to have a positive impact on the development of pro-social behaviors and reduced recidivism. Delivered in a secure setting, this six to eight-month program also offers a long-range nutritional and sauna based detoxification program which uses no alternate drugs.
"As I continue to accomplish each step, I become more motivated to continue accomplishing what I set out to do.", Julio says, "I am not willing to give up in exchange for the past failures or lifestyles. I am just thankful to my lord for his hand of mercy extending through the concept of this program, its staff and my fellow students to support and encourage my continued success here in the program as well as outside of the program in life. Its an ongoing success story that continues today."
Julio also said, "I had not encountered relief from the whirlwind of recidivism within our justice system until Second Chance. I am no longer a part of it's vicious cycle but have now become an entity and future pillar in our communities and state willing to assist others in breaking that cycle. My new attitude, outlook on life and actions give credibility to the scripture 'You can tell a tree by the fruits it produces'. It is through the personally observable transformed life that will encourage others to seek out the same results seen in us. Because of the opportunity presented to me by the Second Chance Program to mature mentally, physically and spiritually as well as the sincere urging and encouragement to do so, we now embraced and continue to run with the Second Chance of having granted myself a Stay of Execution from my own, Self Imposed Death Sentence that I had once voluntarily handed down to myself because of my choice to use drugs."