Human Resources overhaul better serves staff
For employees, retirees, and new staff, CDCR’s Human Resources (HR) has received an overhaul to better fulfill the department’s mission.
“We want our current and new HR hires to understand and connect with the mission of HR and our values,” said Jaclyn Padilla, Deputy Director, HR.
Padilla said the overhaul is a team effort.
“The entire headquarters HR team has been involved in the rebrand using Outlook voting, small crowd-sourcing activities and management discussions. This rebrand was really done by the team,” she said.
As the world has changed, so has HR.
“HR has evolved over the years with the services we provide and how we provide them. COVID-19 is a great example,” she said. “We all work really hard to provide a service but sometimes we get lost in the human aspect of our jobs.”
A major part of the overhaul was a renewed focus on what they do and why.
“This rebrand was part of an effort to reconnect and take a look at our mission statement and reevaluate it. The mission statement we developed as a culmination of several mission statements submitted by HR team members,” Padilla said.
To link with CDCR’s values, HR voted on several options.
“The values, a new logo and slogan, shows our commitment to customer service,” Padilla said.
Read the full story on Inside CDCR.
Earth Day is April 22nd
At the Insight Garden Program (IGP) we celebrate Earth Day every day! For 20 years, IGP continues cultivating ecosystems of care – for ourselves, our communities, and the natural world – by creating healing gardens in 10 CDCR prisons. Earth Day serves as a reminder that we are not separate from nature, but rather one and the same. When we care for our land, we are nourishing ourselves and our communities.
This month at California Medical Facility (CMF), we celebrate Earth Day by planting hardy succulents, colorful sun-loving flowers, and summer vegetables. After four months of closures due to COVID, our garden was overrun with weeds. We’ve been busy pulling up those weeds and adding them to our compost pile, where it will decompose over time into nutrient-rich soil and a great habitat for worms and beneficial microbes. That soil will feed our new plants for a bountiful harvest this summer. As we compost in the garden, we also learn to transform the things in our life that no longer serve us into opportunities for new growth.
At San Quentin, the group is learning about native and medicinal plants, and rediscovering our deep connections with them. Many of the participants remember these plants from their lineage or have memories growing up in relationship with them. One participant told a story of his grandmother using the ruda plant to cure earaches and other ailments when he was younger. This month we planted 38 new medicinal plants in the garden and will continue to deepen our relations with these plants and our ancestors.
The women at Folsom Women’s Facility are gearing up for our “Salad Bar Project” this month. We are expecting a summer harvest with nutrient-dense leafy greens, cherry tomatoes, radishes, and carrots! For IGP this means growing fresh produce and sharing the bounty not only with participants, but with all incarcerated women and prison staff at the facility. We use the act of growing food to nourish ourselves and each other, cultivating generosity and kindness, and creating safe spaces for the entire prison community.
3 Questions With..
Andrea Hubbard, Senior Librarian, CSP-SAC
Andrea Hubbard grew up in the Bay Area but wanted to get out and see the world so she went to college in Pennsylvania where she majored in Russian. Before she began her Masters of Library Science program in North Carolina, she worked as a VISTA volunteer in Bardstown, Kentucky. Her project was to establish a family literacy program to help break the cycle of family illiteracy; here she proudly established a “bookmobile” out of the trunk of her Honda Civic and would visit the kids in the housing projects to loan books. Career and family later took her all around the US to Virginia, Oregon, Kansas and then, nine years ago, back home to California.
She traveled quite a bit when she was younger, visiting 49 of 50 states, along with other countries such as Turkey, Syria, Jordan and the then Soviet Union and she looks forward to getting back out and exploring the world again. At home she enjoys crafting, contra dancing, spending time with her family and friends, and the required pastime of all librarians: reading. And while she does have two grown human children, her current dependents are two phenomenal cats named Zeke and Zelda.
How did you get into your career as a Librarian?
Libraries have always had a bit of a magic aura to them, and librarians seemed like magicians themselves when they could lay their hands on just the right books so it was a field I wanted to be a part of. To be a librarian, one needs a Masters in Library Science and I went to UNC Chapel Hill for my degree; I focused on school libraries since I wanted to be a school librarian (or “media specialist”). I worked in middle schools in Spotsylvania, Virginia and then K-8 schools in Lawrence, Kansas but then we moved to California and that’s when I went to prison.
While I had never worked in a correctional environment, I was intrigued by the idea of libraries as links between inmates and their families outside. I love the idea of and try to support inmates reading the same books as their family outside; it can give them so much more to talk about and relate to. Prison libraries aren’t that much different than school libraries: they both have patrons who want to escape the trials and tribulations of their environment; books help sustain curiosities, expand worldviews and let readers live vicariously; and people who gravitate to libraries are just the best sorts of people wherever they are.
Besides the normal library duties, what other programs are available?
People often ask are we the Library or the Law Library and we are one and the same. We offer legal resources and services to advance litigation and we also offer wide ranging collections of leisure books and creative programming. In my 8 years at SAC, our amazing team of two additional Librarians and two Library Technical Assistants has offered book groups, a short story club, reading challenges of all kinds, trivia contests, author visits, poetry writing groups and a theater program that even put on a play. During the Covid extended lockdown, we put together an in-cell program called “The Writing Toolbox” that kept lots of our patrons engaged. If staff can think of an idea for a program, we’ve usually received support and encouragement to make it happen.
What type of books are most often checked out?
The interests of our library users are as vast and as various as any population of adults. Some of the fiction genres that generate the most enthusiasm are graphic novels/manga, fantasy and historical fiction but urban is very popular, too. In non-fiction, self-help, business and philosophy books are frequently circulated. Since we have patrons of all reading levels and some who read better in other languages, we try to have something available for everyone.
Do you know a staff member who should be highlighted in our weekly update? Submit their name, title, contact information and a brief description of their work to Cal_ExternalAffairs@cdcr.ca.gov.
DAPO APU Partners with Orange County Workforce Solutions Mobile Unit
Parole Agent II Specialist Jennifer Swoboda coordinates with the Orange County Workforce Solutions Mobile Unit and their partners, the Orange County One Stop and American Job Center of California, to deploy their mobile unit to the Irvine Parole Office on a monthly basis. This partnership allows direct connection to employment opportunities, vocational training programs, interviewing skills, and individual assessments to help our reentry population find work. The mobile unit comes equipped with computers so individuals can receive assistance on the spot with career development activities, resume writing, and employment applications. Staff are available to provide immediate assistance with any employment needs our reentry population may have.
Celebrating Earth Day
Millions of people celebrate this date to create a conscious effort to protect our planet called “Earth”. Occurrences that happened in the past called upon governments and organizations to take action to stop damaging the earth. The negative impact and consequences we face affect all life forms in our planet including our own race due to human demeanors and global changes that put our lives in dangerous conditions.
For example, in 1969 a massive oil spill leaked millions of gallons of oil off the coast of Santa Barbara. An environmental movement came to light beginning with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) following the event. Governments passed environmental legislations such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Education Act. Colleges and Universities created clubs and activities to raise their voices against mistreatment and hunting of animals going extinct.
The celebration of Earth Day originated in the US and became recognized worldwide in 1990 by the United Nations. Earth day allows many nations, races, and cultures to come together with a common goal to protect the Earth.
On this Earth Day, let us bring our thoughts and consciousness on how to care for our planet and its future so our children and all live forms can live in a better place than yesterday for all.
CDCR and CCHCS staff interested in joining the department’s efforts toward diversity, equity and inclusion can learn more about becoming a GARE Ambassador.
In our institutions
ASP donates books to local first graders
The Avenal State Prison (ASP) Community Resources Manager (CRM) Office organized a book donation fundraiser for the first grade classes in Kettleman City and the City of Avenal. Donations of new and gently used books were delivered to first graders at Kettleman City Elementary, Tamarack Elementary School and Avenal Elementary School. Eventually all first graders throughout Reef Sunset Elementary School District will receive their own book. Special care was also given to those students who are solely Spanish speaking. This is another event created by the ASP CRM Office and our local community of Avenal, designed to give back and help our local community.
CVSP donates Easter baskets to local schools
On April 13th, Chuckawalla Valley State Prison’s (CVSP) Chief Deputy Warden (CDW) Christopher Pierce, Community Resource Manager (CRM) Kenny Kalian, and staff from the Warden’s office, delivered a total of 54 Easter baskets filled with goodies, to the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services, and Felix J. Appleby Elementary School.
This event has been an annual tradition at CVSP until the COVID-19 pandemic. We started again this year and will continue our annual event of providing Easter baskets to local underprivileged children.
Every year, members of the CVSP incarcerated population, fabricate and paint the bunny shaped baskets. At the same time, the CRM receives lists from the Elementary schools and Social Services of children who are in need. The lists only contain the ages and genders of the children. Staff from all departments participating in the event are assigned the children and baskets of their choice. Staff then then fill the baskets with, age appropriate toys, candy, coloring books, crayons and many other treats. In addition to the wonderful generosity from staff, some of the nonprofit organizations here also participate in this event.
This year, Riverside County Department of Public Social Services and Appleby Elementary School provided lists of girls and boys in need of Easter baskets. Riverside County Department of Public Social Services received 29 Easter baskets and Appleby School received 25 Easter Baskets, all which will be given to children who normally would not receive any type of Easter gift.
Hopefully, next year all of the schools will participate again. Under normal circumstances, we end up preparing over 100 baskets each year. It is very heartwarming to see the enthusiasm and care staff show when receiving the empty baskets then bringing them back full and beautifully decorated.
“A special thank you for everyone who in one way or another participate in this event, ensuring that our local children have a happy and memorable Easter Holiday” stated Warden David Holbrook.
In the media
Editorial: San Quentin college accreditation will help inmates bridge gap
If we’re serious about ending recidivism, the accreditation of Mount Tamalpais College for San Quentin Prison inmates meets that goal.
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges has reviewed the prison school’s curriculum and educational standards and given its courses accreditation as community and junior college credits.
Free courses have been offered to San Quentin inmates for years, providing a college preparatory program and an associate’s degree program in hopes that its students can make use of their education when they fulfill their terms and are released from prison.
In addition, the hope is that the educational opportunities and advantages will lead them away from returning to the criminal behavior that led to their prison sentences.
San Quentin Prison College Gains Accreditation
Mount Tamalpais College, a program for inmates at San Quentin State Prison, has been granted accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
The designation came from the association’s Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, a 19-member board that reviews whether schools meet educational standards.
“Because our processes are based on thorough and recognized best practices, our determination that an institution is in fact providing a quality educational experience for its students is respected by multiple stakeholders,” the commission website says.
Mount Tamalpais College — formerly known as the Prison University Project and Patten University — has provided free education to San Quentin inmates for 25 years. Its offerings include an associate’s degree program and a college preparatory program.
Jody Lewen, president of the college, said accreditation means the school is “independent and autonomous” and that students are not defined as prisoners.
“It advances the goal of helping the general public understand that people in prison are fully human,” she said.
Broken Ladders: New Program gives formerly incarcerated people chance to work, restart life
When 37-year-old Christopher Williams was released from the Corcoran State Prison after serving 15 years for second-degree murder, he found his trials were far from over.
Williams, who had been confined in some of the most dangerous prisons in California – Wasco, High Desert, Folsom, Ironwood and Corcoran – said he learned how to stay alive “from older guys” and mastered the art of being alert, not disrespecting anyone and, most importantly, of reading cues from fellow prisoners and guards.
But once released, Williams found, like most formerly incarcerated people, how difficult it was to find his footing. Everything was a struggle – from finding a place to live to finding a job to reconnecting with people.
“I will only say that it was very difficult for me,” Williams said. “I had the mindset to come home, get out there and live my life.”
Danny Trejo visits inmates at Corcoran State Prison
A Hollywood star took some time to visit inmates at a South Valley prison.
He stopped by for pictures and offered some words of wisdom.
Danny Trejo toured Corcoran State Prison last week.
Trejo had a meet and greet with hundreds of inmates — signing autographs and taking the time to chat one-on-one with some of them.
Trejo also thanked the inmate volunteers in Corcoran, who recently raised and donated $5,400 to a non-profit that supports struggling California youth.
Read the story.
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