Criminal Justice Corrections graduate’s career turns out just as he planned
Brandon Martinez always knew his life’s work would be about helping others. “One of my goals was to work inside institutions with people who have legal and mental issues,” he says. “I thought I could become a corrections officer or go back to school and get into probation.”
Even as a teenager, Brandon was able to see trouble coming and learn from the mistakes of others. “Growing up I had family members who chose to do things in their lives that didn’t work out and got them into trouble. It made me not want to slip through those cracks, myself.”
Brandon had wisdom beyond his years. “It’s just the way I was raised. My parents, David and Irma, were really high on me doing well in school and wanted me to pursue a career that I wanted. Their good guidance kept me on track.”
Just out of high school in 2000, he worked at a teen group home providing case management for the 5 or 6 residents who were not much younger than him. “I was always mature for my age; that’s what everybody tells me,” he admits.
Today, Brandon is the Program Director for Turning Point in Fresno, a 40-bed residential facility that provides dorm-type housing for those recently put on probation through Fresno County and who are in need of temporary housing, counseling and resource services. The center’s 10 case managers keep residents on track with their probation officers, counsel them on independent life skills, direct them to outpatient services for such issues as substance abuse, and help them to find employment.
Brandon feels the depth of service he and his staff are providing to a group of people barely hanging on and still at risk of dropping back into a hole of despair and self-destruction. “Many don’t have family or support from anyone,” he says. “It’s a pattern with them and they lose the support they once had.”
By the time they get to his facility, hopeful residents are usually out of options…and excuses. Many have repeated the cycle of drugs and alcohol, breaking the law and incarceration for several years. “They’ve burned bridges and know that if they continue on the same path, they will be back in jail or on the streets,” says Brandon. “Without the support Turning Point provides, it would be difficult for these individuals to succeed and maintain their everyday life situation.”
Brandon and his case managers do all they can to help residents find the strength and resources they need to reclaim their lives as productive individuals. “We have the ability to – sometimes – change people’s lives here in the program,” he says.
The Criminal Justice program in Fresno gave Brandon many of the tools he now puts into practice in his current role. “Everything was pretty positive there,” he says. “The instructors were retired law enforcement individuals, so had a lot of knowledge and training that they brought to the program. SJVC also offered more certifications than other schools.”
He went on to get his Bachelor’s degree in further preparation for his career ambitions.
Brandon still sees many of his SJVC classmates out in the field they share. “A lot of my peers graduated from that program, as well,” he says. “The majority of them are employed at the Fresno County jail or Justice Department here, and a lot of them go on to have positions with corrections agencies. A couple went on to complete their Bachelor’s degree and are now Probation Officers.”
Brandon is in touch with SJVC’s career services department when he has an appropriate job opening at Turning Point. Last year, he hired a Criminal Justice Corrections graduate for a Security Monitor staff position.
“The role of Security Monitor is very similar to what a Correctional Officer does,” says Brandon. “By them being in the CJ program at SJVC, they have an advantage because of all their training in respect to the role I have here.”
“Brandon is always an employer I reach out to when working with a new candidate (CJ student/graduate),” says Kim Soares, Career Services Advisor on the Fresno campus. “He feels the college provides quality training and great candidates for hire, and he provides quality feedback on a candidate’s performance on job interviews.”
Brandon has plans to expand the program within the next year and will possibly add staff trained in medical assisting, which would give SJVC medical graduates additional career opportunities.
Brandon knows the importance of assembling a strong team to perform the important services they provide to the community. “Working with my staff here is just great,” he says. “If you have a great staff, you don’t have to worry as much.”
With things running smoothly at work, Brandon can more easily relax at home with his wife, Esther and their daughter Addison (5) and son Dylan (1). Maybe ‘relax’ is the wrong description. “Home life is very busy with my daughter in kindergarten and my son being so young, too,” says Brandon. “So right now, we’re really on our toes. When I go home, there’s not going to be a nap.”
With all Brandon has accomplished in his 34 years, he is not likely much of a napper anyway.
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