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May 23
1941 - SCV's first real movie house, the American Theater, dedicated in Newhall [story]
American Theater


Thirty-six inmates graduated Wednesday from Sheriff Lee Baca’s M.E.R.I.T. program at the Pitchess Detention Center’s South Facility in Castaic.

M.E.R.I.T. is Maximizing Education Reaching Individual Transformation, a 12-week program that treats inmates as individuals and teaches them to make good decisions.

“When you change a person’s heart, you change their mind,” said Deputy David D. Bates, the program coordinator. “That’s what we focus on. That is true rehabilitation.”

The program runs five days a week at the jail, Bates said. Wednesday’s graduation ceremony will usher in the start of a new round of classes.

Assistant Sheriff Cecil W. Rhambo addresses the graduates.

“This is education-based incarceration,” Chief Alexander R. Yim told an audience of 120 inmates and several members of the county grand jury, who sat in on the ceremony prior to touring the jail complex.

“This is not a concept,” Yim said. “This is not something that’s still on the drawing board. This is something that is happening that is effecting change in an individual’s life.”

LASD Director Karen S. Dalton emcees the graduation ceremony.

M.E.R.I.T. teaches life skills, anger management, drug education, computer skills and film making, and it gives inmates an opportunity to earn their GED. Partners include L.A. Works Career Technical Education and Hollywood Impact Studios, a nonprofit organization run by Gary Hall, senior vice president of post-production for Twentieth Century Fox Television.

Inmate Justin Phipps was a graduating veteran who participated in more than one of the 12-week sessions during his incarceration.

“In the seven months of M.E.R.I.T. I’ve learned more about myself and about life than in the past seven years of state (prison),” Phipps said. “You see, in prison, all I got was a drug habit. But through the M.E.R.I.T. program, I’ve gotten hope.”

Graduate Cleveland Rose thanked the program and its instructors for “allowing me to show what integrity means and does. That’s doing the right thing when no one’s looking.”

Chief Alexander R. Yim addresses the crowd.

Los Angeles County Mayor Michael D. Antonovich congratulated the graduates for their perseverance.

“There are three types of people in the world,” Antonovich said, “those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened. Each of you has made things happen by graduating today in this program.”

Inmate Daniel Wyman said he was baptized at Pitchess and learned he’s got a choice in the way he behaves.

“I’m only 27 and I’ve been locked up more time – more in jail than I’ve been free. And I’m done,” Wyman said. “I’m done.”

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Watch the full program on SCVTV.com -> http://www.scvtv.com/html/lasd101211meritbtv.html

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LOS ANGELES COUNTY HEADLINES
Thursday, May 23, 2024
The 55th Annual Los Angeles County Peace Officers' Memorial Ceremony was held on Wednesday, May 22, to pay tribute to the law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty and formally inscribed two new names to the memorial wall at the Biscailuz Training Center in East Los Angeles.
Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Representatives from The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's Office of Violence Prevention today joined other members of the National Offices of Violence Prevention Network at an event hosted by the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention.
Wednesday, May 22, 2024
The Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation is set to receive a $75,000 grant investment from the national nonprofit, Petco Love, in support of their lifesaving work for animals in Los Angeles County.
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
The County of Los Angeles Fire Department’s urban search and rescue (USAR) team, known internationally as USA-2, successfully completed a 36-hour training exercise and evaluation by international experts last week at the Del Valle Regional Training Center in Castaic to continue deploying to disasters around the world.
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors appointed Edward Yen as the new executive officer Tuesday to oversee the administration of the Board of Supervisors.

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