Jill Jenkins: Inspired to Help Others Rebuilding Their Lives
Three years ago, Jill Jenkins was 45 years old and struggling with drug addiction. High one day, she was caught stealing a turkey sandwich from a CVS store in Oakland. Due to her prior petty thefts, she was convicted of a felony, a stigma that socially and legally could create barriers to jobs, housing, education and more.
But Jill was determined to turn her life around, so she entered and completed a yearlong rehab program. She then re-enrolled in the college program she left in the 1990s and obtained a paralegal certificate from a local postsecondary program.
When Proposition 47 passed in November 2014, Jill applied to have her felony conviction lowered to a misdemeanor. The judge agreed and changed her sentence.
Today, she’s working to help others get a second chance at life in her job as a paralegal at the Alameda County Public Defender’s office. “I crusaded for the Proposition 47 campaign and voted for it, and now I’m a recipient of it and working to advocate for it for others,” Jill said. “It’s very freeing, and I’m proud of myself. … Maybe three years ago, I would have never imagined being in this position at all.”
Now 48, Jill will complete her bachelor’s degree and has plans to get further advanced education. Eventually, she says, she’ll open a rehab and treatment facility to help others like herself get back on track.