Luis Cardenas receives Governor’s 2023 Gold Star
Luis Cardenas, a retired Parole Agent, received the Gold Star during the 2023 Governor’s Medal of Valor ceremony June 21. The US Army veteran spent 23 years in the military before joining CDCR. Cardenas retired late last year after 20 years with the department.
In December 2020, Parole Agent Cardenas single-handedly arrested an active shooter at a Walmart Store at Fashion Plaza in Bakersfield.
“We take pride in Agent Cardenas’ actions, which exemplify the CDCR employees’ commitment to prioritizing the welfare of their community,” said CDCR Secretary Jeff Macomber. “Thanks to his bravery, the shooter surrendered without any fatalities or injuries. We need more people like Luis Cardenas in our communities.”
Bakersfield news station KGET interviewed Cardenas about the incident and award.
Division of Juvenile Justice
DJJ bids farewell to 81 years serving youth
The Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) is winding down operations as juvenile justice realignment transfers responsibility for the treatment of justice-involved youth to counties. DJJ’s headquarters staff marked the closure with an outdoor luncheon at their Elk Grove offices on June 15.
The event was attended by staff past and present, including:
- Mike Minor, former Director
- Troy Fennel, former Superintendent of Public Instruction,
- and Craig Watson, former Deputy Director
Director Heather Bowlds recounted the history of DJJ from its 1941 founding as the California Youth Authority through its current iteration. More recently, DJJ has offered trauma informed treatment and services to youth, all amid myriad obstacles.
Meet Mek Thorpe, GARE Ambassador
For Pride Month, CDCR/CCHCS Government Alliance on Race & Equity (GARE) spoke with LGBTQIA+ community member and GARE Ambassador Mek Thorpe from Folsom State Prison.
What does Pride Month mean for you?
Pride Month represents solidarity, collectivity, and identity as well as resistance to discrimination and violence. I identify as a transgender male.
Why did you transition?
My whole reason for transitioning was so I would be able to look at myself in the mirror to see the person that I feel I am, to like and love what I see. At the same time, I made these changes so that everyone else could also see who I am.
CDCR and CCHCS are committed to creating supportive spaces and ally-ships for our LGBTQIA+ community and to being supportive of all individuals in our communities, both inside and outside of our prisons.
Juneteenth is a federal United States holiday observed on June 19.
The holiday marks the anniversary of issuing General Order No. 3 on June 19, 1865, which informed the remaining enslaved Africans in the South – held illegally captive after the Emancipation Proclamation – of their freedom.
Juneteenth is a time to acknowledge the lasting impact of slavery while celebrating the resistance of enslaved Africans to secure their freedom and emancipation. We are proud to recognize this important holiday.
World Refugee Day
Every minute, 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror. World Refugee Day is an international day designated by the United Nations to honor refugees around the globe.
It falls each year on June 20 and celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. World Refugee Day is an occasion to build empathy and understanding for their plight and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives.
ARCAID connects returning citizens to community resources
A partnership of parole, technology, and rehabilitation has resulted in a newly revamped application designed to help people succeed when returning to the community after prison. CDCR’s Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO), Enterprise Information Services (EIS) and Division of Rehabilitative Programs (DRP) present ARCAID – the Automated Rehabilitative Catalog and Information Discovery Machine.
This comprehensive search engine allows people currently in prison to securely access resources prior to release, including housing, substance use disorder treatment, and job opportunities. People on parole or probation supervision are also able to create profiles and search for services. Friends and family can browse resources as well. CDCR employees are also able to use ARCAID as they help people prepare for post-incarceration success.
CDCR Unlocked caught up with Stephanie Jones of EIS and Jeff Hammond of DRP to discuss all things ARCAID and how it’s only possible thanks to cross-disciplinary collaboration.
In Our Institutions
Independence Day visiting
CDCR will offer an additional day of in-person visiting on Tuesday, July 4, 2023 in recognition of Independence Day.
All requests for an in-person visit on the holiday must be made using the email process. Requests can be submitted beginning 8 a.m., Saturday, June 24 through 8 a.m., Monday, June 26.
Walk-in visits will be allowed, space permitting. Video visiting and TransMETRO bus services will not be available on the holiday.
MCRP LA barbecue
The Los Angeles Male Community Reentry Program hosted a barbecue in the park. 101 MCRP participants arrived at Whittier Narrows Park to participate in the event.
Games for the participants to enjoy included:
- flag football
- potato sack races
- and games of frisbee.
Those in attendance received hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch, accompanied with sides. The winners of the games received awards to finish out the day.
Many MCRP participants in attendance volunteered to help with setup, cleanup, food service, and the many other essential tasks. Thanks to the staff, volunteers, and all others involved.
Six of San Quentin State Prison’s (SQ) condemned incarcerated population received acknowledgment for their educational achievements. Two of the graduates received their General Education Diplomas (GED). The remaining four graduates received degrees from Coastline College and Feather River College. Congratulations to the students for their hard work and dedication.
FSP ARC graduation
Folsom State Prison (FSP) held a graduation ceremony organized by the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC). The event celebrated the achievements of 58 incarcerated members who completed multiple curricula. The curriculum included emotional intelligence and the Criminal & Gang Anonymous 12-week programs.
The emotional intelligence curriculum helped participants develop the skills to understand and manage their own emotions. These practices emphasized how to communicate effectively with others. Through the Criminal & Gang Anonymous program, participants gained insights into communal and addictive thinking. They learned to break free from negative patterns.
Following the ceremony, a celebratory reception was held. Graduates and their loved ones enjoyed pizza, cake, and beverages.
SATF Fellowship events
Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison SATF) held two Prison Fellowship events. Riding High Ministries and the Bill Glass event both brought events to the institution.
Todd Pierce and Richard Stiffen of Riding High Ministries brought horses to SATF. Pierce, founder of Riding High Ministries, is a professional horse trainer who embraced the opportunity to preach and ride horses. He encouraged the incarcerated people to practice patience and love, as he does while training wild horses. Stiffen, a former incarcerated person, sang gospel songs.
The Bill Glass event included:
- a gospel rapper
- basketball talent
- and a body builder.
Seventy-six volunteers, many formerly incarcerated, shared how religion turned their lives around for the better. Each facility displayed vintage cars and motorcycles. Volunteers visited a housing unit to speak about Christianity.
In the Community
NKSP partnership with Adventist Health
Adventist Health Leadership recently visited North Kern State Prison (NKSP). The visit was intended to establish and maintain the current partnership with the institution and outside specialty services that are provided to the incarcerated population.
“Adventist Health is a valued community partner with NKSP. It is a dual responsibility for both our custody staff and our health care providers to maintain open lines of communication. We plan to continue in our efforts to provide top of the line healthcare services to those who are incarcerated. NKSP was pleased to meet with Adventist Health administration. The tour served as an opportunity to show how the incarcerated are screened and, if needed, referred to Adventist Health,” stated Warden (A) Kevin Hixon.
OVSRS attends Placer County event
CDCR’s Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services (OVSRS) attended a community outreach event hosted by Placer County District Attorney’s Office. The event served as an opportunity to interact with the District Attorney’s office, vendors, and seniors in the Placer County community.
Event speakers gave presentations to the audience on different assorted topics for seniors, medical, and care. OVSRS shared information about the services they provide. Twenty-eight vendors attended the event.
Public Health Meets Public Safety Data Visualization
CCJBH is pleased to announce the launch of the Public Health Meets Public Safety (PH/PS) Data Visualization, available now on the CCJBH website.
The PH/PS Data Visualization was produced under contract with The Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG). PH/PS is an innovative, data-driven tool that allows policymakers and members of the public to see how criminal justice outcomes and community environmental factors—such as educational attainment, local crisis resources, and health care access converge at the state, regional, and county levels play a role in California’s Behavioral Health and Justice Involved population outcomes.
This tool is the first phase by CSG and CCJBH’s in our efforts to empower decision-makers and stakeholders with the knowledge needed to decrease California’s incarceration rates while improving public safety and health outcomes.
A conversation with Brenda Grealish, CCJBH
Inside CDCR caught up with Brenda Grealish, who serves as the Executive Officer of The Council on Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health (CCJBH).
This 12-member council of experts acts as a resource for the administration and legislature, focusing on best practices.
The council’s goal is to reduce incarceration of people with mental illness and/or substance-use disorders using prevention, diversion, and reentry strategies.
The council recently completed a contract to develop the Public Health and Safety (PH/PS) Framework and Data Visualization. The contract is summarized in a report that explains how using data can lead to more positive outcomes.
In the Media
Corrections program reunites families, incarcerated loved ones at Folsom State Prison
Saturday, June 10, marked the one day a year Folsom State Prison participates in a “Get on the Bus” event that transports families to 13 institutions to help them visit incarcerated loved ones.
Fifty-five people were transported from around California to the Folsom prison, with some visitors hopping on buses the afternoon before to travel from as far as Los Angeles.
This annual event was made possible through the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the Center for Restorative Justice Works (CRJW). Fundraising was largely due to the generosity of parishes, the diligence of CRJW Board Member Lois Lengel and other groups.