During the month of June, Americans come together to celebrate Pride Month and to raise awareness of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Two-spirit, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Agender, and Gender Queer (LGBTQIA+) community.
Pride Month began in commemoration of the Stonewall Uprising that took place at the end of June 1969 in Manhattan, New York. Pride is about many things: Acceptance and tolerance, equality, celebrating the work of important LGBTQIA+ activists (such as Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy), providing education about important historical events involving the LGBTQIA+ community, and raising awareness of issues that have and continue to impact the LGBTQIA+ community.
Pride Month is celebrated by those who identify as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community as well as by those who support them. It is an important annual event that can be fun and lighthearted but also carries heavy and sober memories of painful exclusion, past and present.
GARE has established a webpage of LGBTQIA+ resources to share with employees and their family. This small but significant step will demonstrate the department’s strengthened efforts in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.
CDCR and CCHCS are committed to being an ally for our LGBTQIA+ community and supportive of all individuals in our communities, both inside and outside prisons.
If you are interested in attending and supporting in-person celebrations for California’s LGBTQIA+ community during Pride Month, go to the Visit California webpage.
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.
Global Running Day: June 1st
3 Questions With..
Sarah Larson, Assistant Secretary, Legislation
Global Running Day is a worldwide celebration of running that encourages people of all ages and abilities to learn more about running. While June 1 is recognized as Global Running Day, many employees at CDCR and CCHCS hit the pavement, trails, and treadmills year-round to reap the benefits of the sport.
One of those people is Sarah Larson, CDCR’s Assistant Secretary of Legislation. She leads the team charged with analyzing bills, keeping California’s lawmakers up-to-date on CDCR’s activities, and serving as the liaison between the Department and the Legislature.
After graduating from UC Berkeley, Larson worked as an analyst for the Receiver. She left to complete her master’s degree in public policy at Georgetown, and then began working for the Legislature on criminal justice issues before coming to CDCR. She started at CDCR in the Budget Management Branch and then worked for the Division of Rehabilitation Programs before Governor Newsom appointed her to her current position in 2021.
Despite her packed schedule, Larson is also an avid runner, completing marathons and rugged long-distance trail races. She shares her thoughts on running and how what she learns on the trail impacts her career.
When and why did you start running?
When I moved to Washington, DC for grad school, I started running as a way to stay in touch with my dad, who lives in Sacramento (he loves to run). We decided to train for a marathon together – so we shared a training plan and the ups and downs of training together. We ran that first marathon together (Three Sisters in Bend, Oregon) in 2012. We have since run a bunch of races together, including 50k races, a 50-mile race, and the California International Marathon this past December. I have kept running, though, because it brings me such joy and emotional balance. As someone who has issues with anxiety and depression, I have found running is a great way to have time to calm my thoughts and appreciate the world around me. When I get out running, I remember that problems that seem big are actually small when you think about how big the world is.
Does the act of running, or what you have learned from the sport, inform your professional life?
Absolutely. I am not a fast runner by any means, but I have done some long races (the longest I have done is a 100k race, so a little over 62 miles). Races like that usually are on trails out in the wilderness (one race I did made me take a bear whistle, ha!), with a lot of hills and technical terrain.
When you run a race like that, you experience so many highs and lows. I learned to take the race little by little – just make it to the next aid station, then the next one, then the next. That is really true at work too – change comes slowly, and I have to be patient and thoughtful. I also learned not to get overwhelmed by the magnitude of a race – and if you think about it, CDCR is similar – everything that the department does to make the prisons work on a daily basis, it’s extraordinary that we can get it done. Races like that are also really collaborative, not competitive – the course is hard on everyone, and you all pull together to beat the course – I try to think about that at work, too, that even folks that seem like are not on our side, we really can come together with.
Are there any other runners in the Department you’d like to recognize?
There are actually so many runners in this department! I love that we have organized teams, like Law Enforcement Torch Run and Baker-to-Vegas. And Undersecretary Macomber and I talk running a lot, and I have talked to Undersecretary Dr. Toche about it a lot, too. It’s great to see people like that, who are so busy, still take time to get outside. I think it goes to show how important it is for wellness and being able to be your best self at work.
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 Agents Participate in the Annual Never Forget Memorial Relay
In April, Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) Parole Agents Noe Cruz and Jaime Valdez with the Salinas Parole Unit participated in the Annual Never Forget Memorial Relay Event at Aptos Village Park in Santa Cruz County. They joined other first responders from the Santa Cruz Police Department, Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, Santa Cruz County Probation Department, Watsonville Police Department, Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office, California Highway Patrol, Capitola Police Department, State Parks and Fire Department Personnel from Santa Cruz County to run a relay in honor of their fallen brothers and sisters, raising funds for Santa Cruz County’s Fallen Officer Foundation.
The Santa Cruz County Fallen Officer Foundation is a local organization dedicated to providing support and financial assistance to Santa Cruz County first responders and their families during times of crisis and special need. Eighteen first responders in Santa Cruz County have given the ultimate sacrifice. Several thousands of dollars were raised from this charity event. Great work, Agents Cruz and Valdez, in participating and assisting in this charity event and representing DAPO in a positive manner.
Kerry Oglesby has been appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for California State Prison, Sacramento (SAC) effective July 1, 2022.
Oglesby has served as the CEO at California Rehabilitation Center since August 2016. She previously served as the CEO at Central California Women’s Facility from June 2015 to August 2016. Before joining California Correctional Health Care Services, Oglesby held comparable positions within the Florida Department of Corrections, as well as hospital administrator positions in academic healthcare, behavioral healthcare, and rehabilitative healthcare.
Oglesby holds a Bachelor of Science in Zoology, a Master in Health Services Administration, and a Master in Business Administration.
Formerly incarcerated ASP firefighters now employed with CAL FIRE
Former Avenal State Prison (ASP) incarcerated firefighter David Ponce recently graduated as a state of California certified firefighter from the Ventura Training Center (VTC). Ponce is now employed with CAL FIRE, working for the Mendocino County Unit. He was at ASP from September 2015 until August 2020. In July 2019, he was assigned to the ASP Fire Department and decided to pursue a career in fire at VTC, where he graduated as top cadet of his class.
Ponce is not the only ASP firefighter to take the skills learned at ASP and continue advancement outside the institution. Daniel Batchelder also works for CAL FIRE in the Madera/Merced/Mariposa Unit. He was at ASP from August 2017 until May 2021, and was assigned to the ASP Fire Department September 2019. It doesn’t stop there, as Jose Olmedo was also incarcerated at ASP from August 2002 until March 2015 when he was granted parole. He is now a Life Coach at VTC mentoring the cadets coming in.
These are only three examples of the importance of offering quality rehabilitative programs such as firefighter training. ASP Fire Chief Ricardo Collazo assures all the credit is given to his Fire Captains – Fred Ramirez, Duane Contreras and Omar Gomez – as they provide essential real world training, including but not limited to live fire training burns. Additionally, the ASP Fire Department provides essential response and assistance to neighboring communities daily.
LA MCRPs participate in basketball tournament
The three Los Angeles Male Community Reentry Program (LA-MCRP) sites participated in a 5 on 5 inaugural basketball tournament in the city of Carson. The tournament/event was focused on helping participants sustain positive self-image, learn positive competitive skills, and build camaraderie, all of which are pillars of rehabilitation. The winners of the tournament received a large trophy to proudly display at their respective site. Events like these encourage, motivate and reinforce MCRP participants to remain on their positive path to rehabilitation.
The event was not open to the public; however, it was live streamed so family could observe their loved ones competing.
Site Program Directors and their staff were present to cheer on their team. Correctional Counselor IIIs Reyes, Whitt and Fuller, and at least one parole agent from each site, were present to assist with oversight of the event and to cheer on their team. Parole Administrator K. Reed and PAIII Saldana were also present to show support and assist in making the event a success.
The inaugural event was positive and successful. There were lots of smiles, great sportsmanship, positive competitive spirits and camaraderie across the teams. Team GEO (MCRP LA3) were the winners of the tournament – congratulations LA3 on the victory!
In Our Institutions
MCSP Honor Guard participates in Memorial Day event
Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP) continues to support the local community. The MCSP Honor Guard participated in the Ione Veterans Memorial Day event “Walk for the Troops.” Attending this type of event continues to strengthen our ties to the community and represents the department at the highest level. MCSP is fully committed to showing support by remembering/supporting our veterans with fundraising, donations and events such as these.
PBSP holds Prison Paws graduation
The Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) Prison Paws Partnership celebrated the second round of dogs who successfully completed six weeks of training. Prison Paws Partnership brings together PBSP and Humane Society of Del Norte (HSDN) to enrich the lives of both the program’s trainer participants and the dogs they train. PBSP’s overall goals are to reduce recidivism and improve behavior among participants by providing a program that will teach responsibility, accountability, compassion, and patience. HSDN’s overall goal is to ease the burden of over-capacity at the local dog shelter and better the lives of many shelter dogs by providing a program that will turn hard-to-adopt dogs into well trained, socialized, loving pets that will be showcased and adoptable through the Humane Society of Del Norte.
CIM participates in Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run
On May 23, 22 staff members from the California Institution for Men (CIM) participated in the Special Olympics of Southern California (SOSC) Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), in the Inland Empire. The CIM team consisted of managers, CRTs, custody and non-custody personnel. Additionally, Chino Police Department also ran the 4.9 mile leg with CIM.
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