SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Every worker at Rise Up industries has at least one thing in common, they've all served time.
Joseph Ragland has been at the Santee based business for a little over a year now, learning a new skill and learning a different way to live.
Ragland is part of Rise Up's re-entry program. It was founded back in 2016 to help former gang members who've recently been released from prison break the cycle of recidivism.
The program not only teaches them a trade, it offers things like counseling, addiction treatment, mental health services, even financial literacy courses.
Founding president Joe Gilbreath says the idea was born out of need, a need that he didn't see being addressed in San Diego County.
"I wanted to do something meaningful. We train them in our machine shop here to be c and c machine operators. It's a well paid trade in high demand," said Gilbreath.
Gilbreath says the program's long term, holistic approach means they can only help a handful of people at a time but nearly all of their graduates have gone on to get well paying jobs and more importantly, stayed out of prison.
"Guys are very grateful for the opportunity we've given them but we're grateful for them too," said Gilbreath.