CDCR's Week in Review Archives

CDCR Week in Review: May 19, 2023

Q&A with…

Lt. Monique Williams

Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) Lieutenant Monique Williams, with 22 years at CDCR, exemplifies dedication to the department’s mission.

Williams began her career with the department in 2001 at Northern California Women’s Facility. When the facility closed, she transferred to California State Prison-Solano, then to Ironwood State Prison in 2003. She finally transferred to CCWF in 2008 where she currently serves as the institution’s Administrative Assistant/Public Information Officer. Williams recently completed a 34-month out-of-class assignment as Correctional Captain.

woman sitting against wall

She has held the following positions:

  • Correctional Substance Use Counselor
  • Correctional Officer
  • Out-of-class Correctional Counselor
  • Correctional Sergeant
  • Correctional Lieutenant
  • and out-of-class Correctional Captain.

Williams has been a Peer Support member since 2010. She joined the CDCR Recruitment Team in 2019 and guest lectured at Fresno State University. She has also served as an Integrated Substance Use Disorder Treatment Ambassador since 2020. This year, she joined the Government Alliance on Racial and Equity (GARE) team.

Read the full Inside CDCR article here.


Buddha statue at LAC

LAC celebrates Buddha’s birthday

The population on Facility B at California State Prison, Los Angeles County (LAC) celebrated Buddha’s birthday.

The incarcerated Buddhist community gathered to hear from the Buddhist Volunteer Venerable De Hong, and share in a time of unified meditation. They concluded the celebration with a shared meal.

Easter activities offered at HDSP

High Desert State Prison (HDSP) staff worked to brighten Easter for visiting families. Staff put together Easter egg hunts, activities, and treats for the families to enjoy.

girl picking up Easter eggs at HDSP

The visiting department, Inmate Family Council (IFC), and visitor donations all contributed to making the holiday special.

“Events where the population can spend quality time with their families is crucial to rehabilitation at HDSP. We look forward to making the visiting experience even better for families and the incarcerated in the future,” said Warden R. St. Andre.

In Our Institutions

CALPIA members hold donation check

CALPIA event helps Hospice of SLO County

California Men’s Colony (CMC) and California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) hosted their seventh annual CALPIA fundraising event.

CMC employees and incarcerated workers presented Hospice of San Luis Obispo (SLO) County with a donation of over $2,000. Incarcerated workers raised and donated all funds.

Donation amounts began at $2, and were collected only from CALPIA workers at CMC.

“We are grateful for the platform that is being provided to us by CALPIA and CDCR,” said CALPIA fabric shop worker Prateek Bhargava. “Most of us have an innate desire to do good, but to put it into practice requires commitment to do better. Life is precious and the quality of life does not have to diminish just because we are old. Life is beautiful as it is lived with its challenges, but the end of life can also be tranquil and comforting.”

Over the past seven years, CMC’s CALPIA workers have raised over $17,000 to benefit a variety of charities.

In the Community

CTF helps get warm coats for kids in need

Correctional Training Facility (CTF), in partnership with the Employee Action Committee (EAC), held a coat drive fundraiser. The event collected 88 for coats for underprivileged children in the San Ardo Union Elementary School District.

The EAC coordinates employee appreciation events, fundraising events, and assists with charitable programs.

Juvenile Justice

DJJ staff posing for a group photo

DJJ mental health staff honored

Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) mental health staff of N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility had a final food share celebration. The Dr. Seuss-themed event celebrated Mental Health Awareness Month.

The food share served as a final chance to be together before DJJ closes all facilities. Staff received certificates of appreciation and DJJ Director Heather Bowlds attended the event.

Health Care

Solano nurses standing and posing for group photo

Solano Shared Governance Kick-Off Event

California State Prison-Solano (SOL) nurses have assumed a formal role and hold influence in the decision-making process regarding patient care protocols and work environments. The tag line of the SOL Shared Governance Kick-off week event was, “It takes strong leaders to grow strong leaders.”

Throughout the week, attendees had the opportunity to interact with committee members actively engaged in Shared Governance. This allowed participants to gain perspective on the initiative.

Attendees received treats and apricot ribbons. The apricot ribbon holds significance as it represents nursing. The ribbons symbolize optimism and warmth for the dedicated health care professionals who deliver essential services every day.

Headquarters leadership at the event further reinforced SOL’s unwavering commitment and support for this program.

CCJBH logo


In observance of Mental Health Awareness Month, CCJBH seeks to emphasize the importance of self-care for justice-involved individuals with behavioral health needs and those who work with and support this population (e.g., clinical staff, peers and caregivers). As such, CCJBH invites interested people to join a webinar featuring The Happier Life Project, as well as visit the dedicated May is Mental Health Awareness Month web page, which includes relevant resources, highlighting those that promote self-care.

Visit the May is Mental Health Awareness Month webpage.

Mental Health Awareness Month Webinar

When: May 24, 2023, noon to 1p.m.

Description: The Happier Life Project will present on mental health resources for the justice-involved population. The Happier Life Project is an official Cal Hope counselor for formerly incarcerated individuals who connects with other community-based organizations to support those on a road to a happier life by seeking long-term recovery.

Register for the webinar through Zoom.

Lived Experience Project Showcase

When: June 23, 2023, 2-4:30 p.m.

Description: As CCJBH’s current Lived Experience Projects (LEP) come to a close, LEP contractors reflect on their successes and challenges over the past three years. Efforts supported local community-based organizations who have been implementing projects that include individuals with lived experience to help reduce justice involvement of people with behavioral health needs.


VTC fire crew poses for picture

CAL FIRE: Jason Barr makes most of rehabilitation opportunities

photo of Jason Barr in fire crew uniform

Thanks to rehabilitation opportunities and career training, Jason Barr has earned the chance to prove himself with CAL FIRE.

At the Ventura Training Center in 2019, Barr was part of the second cohort in the Firefighter Training and Reentry Program. He graduated in July.

Visit the Ventura Training Center webpage.

His training and hard work paid off when in May 2022, he accepted a forest technician post with CAL FIRE San Luis Obispo unit.

Within six months, he took an important step in his career, completing the Firefighter Academy. Then, in February 2023, Barr completed a seven-week Company Officer Academy as part of his promotion to Fire Apparatus Engineer (FAE).

Anti-Recidivism Coalition program graduates take the stage at CCWF

CCWF ARC graduates standing in a group

Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) hosted an Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) graduation ceremony. The ceremony commemorated participants who completed one of the four 12-week ARC groups:

  • Board of Prison Hearing (BPH) Preparation
  • Criminal Gangs Anonymous (CGA)
  • Emotional Intelligence.

Fifty-three graduates received Certificates of Completion. Formerly incarcerated ARC volunteers attended the event. Warden (A) Anissa De La Cruz and BPH Executive Officer Jennifer Shaffer addressed the audience at graduation.

“Remember, success is not just about what you achieve, but also how you impact and inspire others. Make a positive difference in the world, whether by giving back to your community or by helping those around you,” said De La Cruz.

ARC is a support network for formerly incarcerated individuals and advocates for criminal justice reform. ARC’s mission is to reduce incarceration, improve the outcomes of formerly incarcerated individuals, and build healthier communities.

Visit the Anti-Recidivism Coalition website.

CTF K9 program sits in front of memorial with puppies

CTF welcomes Wiley’s Wish dog-training course

Correctional Training Facility (CTF) hosted 10 dogs from the Wiley’s Wish program. Staff and incarcerated people enthusiastically welcomed the dogs and the program.

The dogs are rescues given a second chance at having a family and a home. Trainer Samantha Brinegar is a veteran of the United States Armed Forces.

Under Brinegar’s supervision, participants learn hands-on about dog training. Through University of Denver, they work on their associate degrees in Canine Behaviors. The dogs go through American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizens (CGC) course. A dog will advance into service dog training if showing promise during the evaluation. The dogs are paired with a veteran or first responder upon completion of training.

All dogs that graduate from the program are available for adoption from anyone. All trained service dogs will be eligible for a veteran or first responder.

In the Media

Incarcerated people sit together at ceremony

Incarcerated people honored at apprenticeship graduation

LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Calif. – Plenty of hugs and congratulations, like in so many other graduations during this season, except that these graduates are inmates at the California State Prison in Lancaster, serving real time for serious crimes.

Thirty of them were recognized for completing programs through the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) in partnership with the California Dept of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). The industry-accredited certification qualifies incarcerated individuals for employment when returning to their communities, in jobs that go from health-care facility maintenance to running commercial laundry facilities.

Visit Fox11’s website for the whole story.

4 SQ incarcerated standing with puppies

San Quentin prison program pairs trainers with puppies

SAN QUENTIN, Calif. (KRON) — A new training program is underway at San Quentin State Prison. People who are incarcerated train puppies to become service animals.

This kind of program has proven to be very successful for the dogs as well as their incarcerated trainers.

Just the name San Quentin can evoke dark and scary thoughts. But tell that to these two little guys: Wendel and Artemis. The puppies don’t know the powerful effect they have just by showing up.

Visit KRON4’s website to read the whole story.

CDCR honors teachers in correctional classrooms

teacher stands in front of incarcerated students

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Teaching in prison takes a special kind of person. A teacher helps students learn a new way of thinking, which can be a big undertaking in a correctional classroom.

Teacher Appreciation Week this year landed May 7 through 13. Superintendent Shannon Swain with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation took time to honor and thank those in correctional classrooms who positively impact thousands of lives every day.

Visit Corrections1 website to read the full article.

7 KALW incarcerated speakers pose for photo

Meet San Quentin State Prison’s Newest Audio Storytellers

We’re proud to introduce the newest group of audio storytellers from San Quentin State prison. For over a decade, KALW has aired dozens of pieces from California prisons through our program, Uncuffed. Today, we’re going to add to that number with an introduction to this newest class.

Greg Eskridge, Tim Hicks, Ryan Pagan, Juan Moreno Haines, Steve Brooks, Anthony Caravahlo, and Brian Asey are an impressive group made up of award-winning producers, writers, sports-editors, and filmmakers. They’re fathers, and leaders, and facilitators. And every week, they gather in the San Quentin Media Center to learn the ins and outs of audio storytelling.

Visit KALW’s website to read the whole story.

man in graduation outfit

California man incarcerated for 27 years graduates college

HAYWARD, Calif. – Forrest Jones spent over two decades in California state prisons, but on Sunday, he graduated from college.

Jones grew up in Hanford in the San Joaquin Valley where he was the youngest of 10 siblings in a working class family.

Jones said he started hanging out with the wrong crowd and spent 27 years of his life in California state prison.

“I started messing with drugs, became addicted,” Jones said. “Started stealing to support my habit, landed in jail and drug rehabs; landed in jail twice…”

Visit KTVU’s website to read the full article.

2 incarcerated individuals stand with horse

Prison horse program offers a ‘second chance at life’ in the barn

COALINGA, Calif. (FOX26) — Pleasant Valley State Prison and the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation celebrated its fourth anniversary of the “Second Chances Program.”

This training program provides inmates the chance to learn new skills through its accredited equine care and stable management courses.

“We needed to find good outcomes for some of the former racehorses and for them to be able to find a good home in this type of an environment,” said Dave McGlothlin a Retired Manager for Harris Farms Horse Division.

Visit the KMPH website to read the entire article.

Top Inside CDCR Stories

190 graduate Basic Correctional Officer Academy

Off-duty officer responds to fatal accident

Meet two women-led CDCR K-9 teams

Trainer, cadet discuss today’s correctional officers

CDCR salutes National Correctional Officers Week