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Harris to Bring Californian Dedicated to Reentry Programs to State of the Union

February 03, 2020

Photo of Elder Joseph Pau 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Monday announced that Elder Joseph Paul, Jr., a seasoned reentry professional with more than 25 years working with ex-offenders, high-risk adults, and various community service and faith-based organizations throughout the Los Angeles area, will be her guest to the 2020 State of the Union address on Tuesday, February 4.

“Since his own reentry more than 25 years ago, Elder Paul has devoted his life to public service through helping former offenders reenter their communities and lead productive lives post-incarceration,” said Harris. “I was proud to work with him during my time as Attorney General of California and witness firsthand how his path has inspired so many. Particularly as we kick off Black History Month, I am honored to welcome Elder Paul as my guest to the State of the Union. He embodies the determination and vision of so many Black leaders who work every day to make our communities better. As our country continues to work toward much-needed reform of our criminal justice system, it is time for Washington to hear the stories of Elder Paul and others who are working to give more Americans a second chance.”

“As a former offender who sought to turn my life around, I have personally experienced just how daunting it is to reenter society and rebuild your life with very few resources,” said Elder Paul. “Through my work with the Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership, I have witnessed how important it is to have meaningful opportunities for work and community for those who return home after being incarcerated. Offering programs and in-person support can transform not only these individuals’ lives, but the lives and well-being of their families and neighbors as well. I am grateful to Senator Harris for inviting me to be her guest to the State of the Union this year and honored to represent my fellow Californians who have sought to improve and change their lives after being released from incarceration.”

Harris previously worked with Elder Joseph Paul, Jr. to launch and operationalize the Back on Track – Los Angeles program at Pitchess Detention Center South Facility in Los Angeles, an initiative launched by then-CA Attorney General Kamala Harris. In March 2015, California Attorney General Kamala Harris joined with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles County Probation Department, and Five Keys Schools and Programs to implement this reentry program. The visionary two-year pilot program created community partnerships with state and local agencies that resulted in a comprehensive model to reduce recidivism. As San Francisco District Attorney and California Attorney General, Harris worked to implement key reforms to make the criminal justice system more fair. In 2005, then-District Attorney Harris launched the first-of-its-kind Back on Track program to assist young people arrested for first-time drug offenses with job training and education.

Elder Paul is currently the Managing Director for the Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership (LARRP). Prior to joining LARRP, Elder Paul served as the Administrator of Vocational and Workforce Development Services for SHIELDS for Families, overseeing multiple government-funded reentry programs for the agency. Additionally, Elder Paul is an ordained minister and for the past 10 years has served as the Director of Political and Civic Affairs for Bishop Noel Jones at City of Refuge. Throughout his career, Elder Paul has brought his skills in program implementation, collaboration management, workforce development, and community development to serve both the faith-based and community-based reentry populations, and has been widely recognized by local, state, and national civic leaders.

Elder Paul is a resident of Signal Hill and father of three children.

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