CDCR's Week in Review Archives

CDCR’s Week in Review: July 15, 2022

What’s New?

Four people in a studio, recording a podcast episode while wearing headphones and using microphones

Wellness is focus of CDCR Unlocked podcast episode

The CDCR Unlocked podcast this week features Dr. Briana Rojas, Kathryn Jue, and Sgt. Jonathan Wilson from CDCR’s Office of Employee Wellness. 

Mental health and wellness is a huge part of the department. That’s why CDCR is committed to making every effort possible to assist staff and their families with mental health.

Topics included:

  • CDCR Wellness app
  • Peer Support Program
  • Law Enforcement Chaplaincy Services program
  • and a variety of other services available to all staff, their families, and retired staff.

(Listen to the Unlocked episode.)

Upward Mobility

Jenifer Hernandez has been appointed as the Negotiations Unit Manager, Office of Labor Relations (OLR. Ms. Hernandez joined CDCR in October 2007 and has worked at California Institution for Women, California Institution for Men and the Office of Labor Relations. She has held positions as an Associate Government Program Analyst, Labor Relations Analyst, Employee Relations Officer and most recently a Labor Relations Specialist.

Justin Adelman has been appointed Associate Director, Budget Management Branch, Office of Fiscal Services, within the Division of Administrative Services. Adelman’s career began with the California Department of Education in April 2012 as an Office Technician (Typing). Adelman joined the Department of Finance in May 2017 as a Finance Budget Analyst. Most recently, Adelman promoted to a Principal Program Budget Analyst II, supervising two Budget analysts who oversaw the incarcerated adult and parole populations, CDCR Academy, Board of Parole Hearings, Board of State and Community Corrections, and 2011 Public Safety Realignment.

Juvenile Justice

Five young men hold scholarships.

Ventura youth awarded academic scholarships

Pursuing higher education is a little more accessible for seven Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) youth at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility (VYCF). Each youth was recently awarded an academic scholarship from the Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC). The volunteer organization awarded seven scholarships totaling $14,000 at ceremonies held at VYCF.

CAC raises funds year-round to bring this scholarship opportunity to youth at VYCF. Linda McLaughin, president of CAC, explained youth are subjected to a rigorous vetting process that includes submitting essays, maintaining good grades, and exhibiting positive behavior.

At award ceremonies, the youth accepted their awards and spoke about their future plans. Tamir W. shared plans to use his $3,000 scholarship to help obtain trucking certification. Jonathan M. spoke of how he comes from a family that struggles with generational incarceration but he is the first to be awarded an academic scholarship. His totals $2,000. 

Antonio L. shared how shifting his mentality led him from being off track academically early on in his life to achieving his high school diploma on time and now being awarded a $2,000 academic scholarship.  Andrew  F. talked of plans to pursue higher learning in psychology with his $2,000 award while Aujahn D. shared he will be leaving the facility shortly and plans to attend a four- year university armed with an additional $3,000 scholarship.

Maria Harper, Superintendent of VCYF, congratulated scholarship recipients on this academic opportunity: “Opportunities abound every day. They are all around you. Recognize them like you did when you applied for the opportunity to be awarded a scholarship, and let tenacious determination be the driving force to achieve success.”


The Office of Correctional Education recently held the Principal Professional Development (PD) event at CDCR headquarters. The event was attended by Jeff Macomber, Undersecretary of Operations; Brant Choate, Director, Division of Rehabilitative Programs (DRP); Amy Casias, Deputy Director, Program Support, DRP; Kevin Hoffman, Deputy Director, Program Operations, DRP; and their team of Associate Directors. All Principals statewide attended the event. This particular event is significant as there has not been an in-person PD in close to three years. 

Choate discussed recidivism with the group and Casias provided DRP budget updates and explained the structure of DRP. OCE Superintendent Shannon Swain provided college updates.  Also, Sarina Calderon of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) Committee, attended the event and introduced other members of the committee to the Principals.  They presented and played a game with staff to reinforce the mission of GARE. 

A representative from the Outreach and Technical Assistance Network (OTAN) presented on educational technology in the classroom. Three site principals presented Leadership Moments for the group (Tracie Lee, Ana Mondet, Wendy Olono). They shared a specific experience, such as integrating technology or improving teacher morale.  HQ Principal Librarian Brandy Buenafe shared library literacy program information and Career Technical Education Administrator Joseph Piazza closed the day with an in-depth and interactive presentation on Decision Making in Correctional Education. 

In the Media

Firefighter holding a hose in front of a fire

Formerly incarcerated firefighters find purpose in private sector

The Washburn Fire, which is currently burning at Yosemite National Park, is a reminder that wildfires can spark anytime in super dry California, and tackling those blazes is tough work, especially for firefighters who are incarcerated. And for various legal and cultural reasons, it’s difficult to be able to continue that work after their sentences.

That’s where the Forestry and Fire Recruitment Program (FFRP) comes in. It’s a California-based nonprofit that helps formerly incarcerated people find permanent firefighting jobs in the private sector. It also helps recruits obtain housing, mental health care, and other social services.

“I have lived experience, being a person who was formerly incarcerated as a firefighter within California. … Loving the job, I wanted to do this [firefighting] once I came home,” says co-founder Brandon Smith.

Inside CDCR Top 5

2,904     Guitars hand-painted at Pelican Bay net $11k for children

2,387     Incarcerated team claims Math Bowl trophy over staff

2,074     Every 15 Minutes: Incarcerated firefighters discuss DUI dangers

1,442     Corcoran prison employees award scholarships

1,268     CDCR holds July hiring workshops in Central Valley

Social Media

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