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COUNTYWIDE : O.C. Youth Parole Program to Cease

The California Youth Authority’s Volunteers in Parole program for Orange County ends the year primarily in boxes and crates, as its director, Patricia C. Ruhlman, prepares to close down the office.

Volunteers in Parole, which matches attorneys with ex-youth offenders in a type of Big-Brother/Big-Sister program, opened an Orange County office in 1982, and since then has made 175 matches between lawyers and parolees.

But state budget woes are forcing it to close. The state Volunteers in Parole program will keep an eye on Orange County from a new regional office in San Diego.

Ruhlman said the director there, James Pauley, will try to keep the current 25 Orange County matches going.

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The state maintained three of its seven programs in the budget squeeze, but Orange County did not make the cutoff.

“We’ve had some failures, but we’ve had some wonderful successes,” Ruhlman said. “We have one youth who is now in law school. We’ve had several who have been able to start their own businesses. I still believe strongly that the concept is a good one.”

The idea was to help ex-offenders adjust to parole by matching them with someone who would show an interest in what happened to them.

“We had some negative influences we had to deal with with, primarily gangs and the growing use of drugs,” Ruhlman said.

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The program was co-sponsored by the California Bar Assn. and the Orange County Bar Assn. But the bulk of the money came from the Youth Authority, and the two bar groups did not have the funds to make up the difference when the state agency had to curtail its Orange County expenses.


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