NBC San Diego

Former Prisoner Helps Others Rebuild Their Lives

By Ramon Galindo  Published February 21, 2021  Updated on February 22, 2021 at 12:14 am

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https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/former-inmate-starts-transitional-housing-program/2527987/

A San Diego man who was convicted of murder as a child, is now free and helping other men who were incarcerated, get their life on track.

Eddie Blajos is opening a new transitional housing center at a time when the California prison system is releasing thousands of inmates.

“The ultimate goal is to help them be successful. Help them get a car. Help them have money in the bank,” said Blajos.

After spending more than four decades in jail, Blajos co-founded Restoring Citizens.

The transitional assistance program gives former inmates a place to stay. It also connects them to job placement services and substance abuse help.

Clients attend therapy in a faith-inspired environment. The property is owned by the San Diego Catholic Diocese.

“In the beginning they don’t like it, because its structure, but we recognize what men coming out of prison need and they need structure,” said Blajos.

Blajos, who got out of prison in 2017, will be able to help house 30 men at a time for up to 90 days. The need for these types of services is increasing.

Currently the prison population in California is 94,501 according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. That’s a reduction of 24,516 since March 11, 2020.

“The challenge on that, is having that many folks being released back into the community when we already have housing shortages,” said Bobby Ehnow, PhD, Director of the Office of Life, Peace and Justice at the Catholic Diocese of San Diego.

“We can help these individuals be successful, live next to you. Help you clean your yard. Help you with what you need. This is what we do daily,” said Blajos

Blajos is motivated by a new sense of purpose. Before he turned 18 his criminal record included murder, assault, kidnapping and grand theft auto.

He was sentenced to life in prison but was released after 41 years following the passage of the California Senate Bill 260.

The law signed by then Gov. Jerry Brown enabled minors who were tried in adult court, to have their sentence reviewed.  Now that he is free, he is hoping his experience will inspire others to leave the life of crime.

“For all you youngsters who are thinking about something like this, my mother died when I was in prison, my father died when I was in prison, my two oldest brothers died, my youngest sister died,” said Blajos.

“This is a life of sorrow. This is a life of pain. Not for me for our loved ones,” said Blajos.

Now that he’s on the outside, Blajos is hoping to keep as many people away from that pain and help empower the men who have been given a second chance.

For more information on resources and services directed at formerly incarcerated individuals go to: StepForwardCA.Com  The guide gathers resources from across San Diego County.

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