To encourage employees to expand their knowledge and gain new experiences, CDCR/CCHCS GARE Ambassadors are sharing celebrations throughout the year. To learn more about the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, visit the GARE website.
Submission by GARE Ambassador Delinia Lewis
In 1863, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared more than 3 million slaves living in the Confederate states to be free. More than two years would pass, however, before the news reached African Americans living in Texas. It was not until Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, that the state’s residents finally learned slavery had been abolished. The former slaves immediately began to celebrate with prayer, feasting, song, and dance.
The following year, on June 19, the first official Juneteenth celebrations took place in Texas. The original observances included prayer meetings and the singing of spirituals, and celebrants wore new clothes as a way of representing their newfound freedom. Within a few years, African Americans in other states were celebrating the day as well, making it an annual tradition. Celebrations have continued across the United States into the 21st century and typically include prayer and religious services, speeches, educational events, family gatherings and picnics, and festivals with music, food, and dancing.
Juneteenth became a state holiday in Texas in 1979, and a number of other states subsequently followed suit. In 2021 Juneteenth was made a federal holiday. In celebration outside of the United States, organizations in a number of countries continue to recognize the end of slavery and honor the culture and achievements of African Americans.
Division of Juvenile Justice
Ventura Youth Social Worker honored for academic excellence
Social workers abound at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility (VYCF), and Parole Agent Desiree Butler recently joined the fold. While working fulltime as a Parole Agent, Butler recently graduated from Cal State University Northridge, earning a master’s degree in social work (MSW) in two years while being awarded the Jean E. Daniels Award for Leadership and Academic Excellence.
There are currently 10 peace officers with their MSW who work as Parole Agents, Treatment Team Supervisors, Casework Specialists, Supervising Casework Specialists, Parole Agents II, Parole Agents III and as Assistant Superintendent at VYCF. The MSW is requisite for the Casework Specialist position and has been a springboard, launching multiple careers at the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) because of its approach that helps in analyzing and addressing the complex problems of DJJ’s adolescent population, including trauma, domestic violence, mental health, displacement, gang involvement, abuse, substance abuse, trafficking, neglect, abandonment, learning disorders and poverty.
The desire to help others is a shared characteristic among those possessing and pursuing MSWs at VYCF, including Senior Youth Correctional Counselor Carla Ayala, who is also working fulltime in pursuit of an MSW. PA Butler finds working with DJJ youth “very challenging, yet rewarding.”
Ralph Jackson has been appointed Chief, Allegation Investigation Unit (AIU) for the CDCR Office of Internal Affairs (OIA), effective June 1, 2022.
With 20 years of service at CDCR, Jackson has served in a broad range of assignments within the Division of Adult Institutions (DAI), both within multi-level institutions with diverse missions and programs, as well as at DAI headquarters offices. During his tenure, Jackson has held numerous specialty and/or leadership positions to include Watch Commander, Personnel Assignment Lieutenant, Public Information Officer, Employee Relations Officer, Labor Relations Advocate, Peer Support Program Administrator, Chief of the Office of Policy Standardization, and most recently as the Health Care Access Associate Warden at California State Prison, Solano.
Are you looking to enroll with Savings Plus, your supplemental retirement plans? Are you currently participating in a Savings Plus 401(k) or 457(b), but it has been awhile since you have had someone look at your investment allocations? Or, are you looking to retire soon and have Lump Sum Separation questions?
Savings Plus is offering free one-on-one consultations to provide you the opportunity to ask questions and get information about your retirement accounts from a Savings Plus consultant. Twenty-minute phone appointments are available June 20-24.
Sign up here. Find the time you would like to meet, click the green signup button, enter your email and click “continue.” Next, enter the phone number you would like to be contacted at and then click the “Save and Done” button. If you get a message stating all spots are full, unfortunately your signup was unsuccessful and you will need to pick a different available date and time.
On the day and time of your meeting, your assigned Savings Plus representative will call you at the phone number you entered. If you are using your office number, enter your extension when registering. You will receive a reminder email from signup.com as well as from the representative you are meeting with. Because there are limited spots, please only sign up for one timeslot. If you need more time, you can schedule a follow up appointment.
Are you looking for information, but not ready to speak to a consultant? Take advantage of Savings Plus’ webinars on the following topics:
- Lump sum separation
- Finance 101
- Social Security
- Taxes, investing, retirement savings and more
Correctional Officer Jumpstart event planned for CTF
A Jumpstart recruitment event will be held Saturday, June 25, at Correctional Training Facility (CTF) in Soledad.
Jumpstart helps CDCR job seekers with the basics to reduce the hiring timeline by 90 days or more. It allows CDCR applicants to take the written exam, Physical Fitness Test, Live Scan, and start the background process all in one day.
Candidates who are selected to participate will be contacted and provided details regarding the event through email notification.
The Council on Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health (CCJBH) will hold a Juvenile Justice Workgroup from 12:45-2:45 p.m. July 15 at the Board of Parole Hearings, 1515 K St. Suite 550, Sacramento. Attendees may view in-person, via Microsoft Teams, or by calling (916) 701-9994, Phone Conference ID: 361 038 345. Advanced registration is not required for this meeting.
CCJBH’s Diversion and Reentry Workgroup will be held from 3-5 p.m. July 15, also at 1515 K St., Suite 550, Sacramento. Attend in-person, via Microsoft Teams, or by calling (916) 701-9994, Phone Conference ID 840 315 765.
On July 29, the CCJBH Full Council Meeting will take place from 2-4:30 p.m. at 8260 Longleaf Drive, Building C, Suite 101, Elk Grove, CA. Register to attend virtually via Zoom.
In our Institutions
CTF hosts tactical training
CDCR recently hosted the Alarm Response Instructor Certification (ARIC) Course at Correctional Training Facility (CTF) in Soledad. The main objective of ARIC is to teach staff procedures for coordinated tactical moves to stop disturbances and limit injuries. A total of 46 instructors from 25 CDCR institutions received their recertification credentials during the training.
The ARIC recertification consisted of four days of intensive training to include tactics, policy, instructor development, and safety protocols to teach back at their institutions. Upon completion of the ARIC Training, the certified instructors are able to run Reality Based Alarm Response training at their institution.
Twenty-seven 27 newly hired correctional officers (currently assigned to job shadow) assisted by role-playing as incarcerated people and responding staff. In addition to the 27 officers, CTF Warden (A) L. A. Martinez and Associate Director M. Spearman participated in the Alarm Response portion of the training by responding to emergency situations and joining staff in the skirmish line, all while being exposed to chlorobenzalmalonitrile (CS) gas.
“When do you see an Associate Director and a Warden standing on a skirmish line shooting a 40mm launcher, training with brand-new officers?” said Correctional Lt. J.T. Klein with Correctional Peace Officer Standards and Training (CPOST). “They will remember that forever.”
In the Media
In the late 1970s, photographer Peter Merts was one of nearly 500 youth who trespassed to protest the construction of a nuclear power plant on an earthquake fault. For this act of civil disobedience, Merts was arrested.
Merts spent 14 days in San Luis Obispo County jail, an experience that helped him to understand that “the folks inside – be they inmates or officers – were not that different from people on the outside, and that treating them with respect, consideration, and discretion would be appreciated and reciprocated”.
At that time, Merts began volunteering at Bread & Roses – a San Francisco Bay Area non-profit organization providing free, live entertainment to institutionalized audiences. “I said to myself, ‘This is amazing; someone should document this!’” says Merts. “Within a week I bought a used Nikon.”
Over a period of 15 years, Merts would traverse California, documenting art classes in all 36 adult prisons. “Numerous studies, including those by Dr. Larry Brewster, with whom I published Paths of Discovery: Art Practice and Its Impact in California Prisons, show the efficacy of prison art programs,” Merts says, listing a host of psychological, behavioral, interpersonal, and intellectual benefits.
In the new book, Ex Crucible: The Passion of Incarcerated Artists (Daylight), Merts provide an intimate look at the therapeutic and rehabilitative powers of drawing, painting, singing, acting, sculpting, dancing, playing musical instruments, spoken word and movement.
For years California, Florida, Oregon, Washington, and other states have relied on incarcerated men and women to fight wildfires. They are trained to perform grueling work while earning just a few dollars, sometimes as little as $2 a day.
Incarcerated workers who serve as volunteer firefighters help contain and combat blazes as wildfires have become more frequent and intense while the U.S. Forest Service has struggled with staffing shortages due in part to low pay. Now a nonprofit group – with help from foundations and others – is helping incarcerated people who have been trained as firefighters secure careers in the profession once they leave prison.
Navigating the hurdles to a steady firefighting job isn’t easy. Brandon Smith knows those challenges firsthand. In 2012, he was at Wasco State Prison, near Bakersfield, Calif., about eight months into his sentence for nonviolent charges, when his prison counselor suggested he move to a fire camp. He would be able to live there and learn to fight fires while earning the same certifications as California’s seasonal firefighters.
“When you’re incarcerated, you have this stigma of being a public nuisance, but being a firefighter provided an opportunity for me to give back to the community and also give myself a sense of pride,” Smith said. “It was something that I wanted to continue as a way of giving back to the community once I came home.”
For several years, the Antelope Valley College has partnered with the California Department of Corrections and Re-habilitation to offer face-to-face instruction in a maximum-security state prison.
This year, the college will see its first 18 graduates of the program.
“Antelope Valley is enormously proud of the graduates and the faculty and staff that have contributed to their hard-earned achievement,” Cathy Hart, interim dean of Community Projects and Extended Learning said. “It is the hope of AVC that these students will be able to continue their education, whether inside or outside of prison and that their paths are forever changed through the transformative power of education.”
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