Incarcerated students awarded associate degrees at RJD
Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD) hosted a graduation ceremony for 22 incarcerated students who earned their associate degrees from Southwestern College (SWC). Most of the graduates will go on to pursue a bachelor’s degree with the University of California, Irvine (UCI).
The graduation exemplifies the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) commitment in providing “grade school to grad school opportunities” to incarcerated students, helping them advance to higher levels of academic programming and meet their rehabilitative goals.
“We know that college changes lives and can be transformative,” said CDCR Secretary Jeff Macomber. “We are thrilled that the graduates today are using these opportunities to positively transform not only themselves, but also inspire those around them to do the same.”
The graduation was attended by California Community Colleges Deputy Chancellor, Dr. Daisy Gonzales, and Shannon Swain, Superintendent of the Office of Correctional Education in CDCR as well as SWC and UCI leadership.
- KPBS: Incarcerated students find freedom through their education behind bars
- NBC7 San Diego: From defendants to diplomas: 24 San Diego prisoners get associate’s degrees
Donation drive benefits Sacramento reentry program
The Sacramento Custody to Community Transitional Reentry Program (CCTRP), Saint John’s Program for Real Change, is committed to helping participants build successful lives for themselves and their families. CCTRP allows eligible women to serve their sentence in the community at a CCTRP in lieu confinement in state prison. To help these women rebuild their lives, Saint John’s is holding a donation drive now through October 13. Clothes, shoes, hygiene items, stationery and games are much appreciated.
Saint John’s program slogan, “Enough is enough,” evolved directly from the place of deep reflection in which a woman decides that her old choices, habits, and addictions must end.
To support participants during this transition in their lives, CCTRP-Sacramento provides resources such as clinical therapy, one-on-one counseling, rehabilitative groups, substance use recovery, educational and vocational programs, employment preparation, and other reentry services.
Participants engage in many activities throughout their day, including exercise, attending classes, mock interviews, job searching, and positive leisure activities. As such, the program graciously accepts any gently used women and men’s clothing, including business and casual wear. Other items such as stationery, luggage, games and puzzles are also accepted.
“Thank you in advance for your donations to CCTRP-Sacramento, Saint John’s Program for Real Change,” said D. Mendoza, Correctional Counselor III, CCTRP-Sacramento, “and for contributing to our endeavors in providing a therapeutic and rehabilitative environment for participants.”
Donation bins can be found at the following locations:
- Birkmont Campus (Division of Correctional Policy Research and Internal Oversight, Peace Officer Selection and Employee Development)
- Office of Peace Officer Selection
- Correctional Training Academy
- Instructional Design Unit
For more information, call (916) 453-1487, extension 653.
CDCR files regulations to reform use of restricted housing in the state’s prisons
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) this week filed emergency regulations with the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) to reform its use of Restricted Housing.
The proposed regulations have significant changes, including the reduction in the number of RHU programs from six to three. Additionally, the number of offenses resulting in RHU terms will be reduced from 34 to 19, which means offenses eligible for an RHU term will be only those involving violence or threats of violence, including possession of weapons. Also, there will also be a standardized out of cell time to a minimum of 20 hours per week, as well as increased access to rehabilitative programming opportunities.
“We are proud to announce a significant step forward in our commitment to reduce the use of restricted housing by proposing common sense changes that maintain public and institution safety, while also continuing to create an environment that focuses and pushes personal support and rehabilitation,” said CDCR Secretary Jeff Macomber.
CMF Prison Palooza 2.0
On Sept. 29, California Medical Facility (CMF) hosted Prison Palooza 2.0, a sequel to the original event held before the pandemic. The gathering brought together staff, community members, and incarcerated people for a day of celebration.
The event featured chalk art, cornhole, horseshoes, and a car/motorcycle show. Program and vendor booths added depth to the experience.
The day’s rhythm was set by multiple bands, including a special performance by Warden (A) Daniel Cueva’s family. Iconic figures Jello Biafra from the Dead Kennedys and Wayne Kramer from MC5 joined incarcerated musicians on stage.
Prison Palooza 2.0 was a testament to CMF’s dedication to inclusivity, celebrating unity through shared moments, and how even in the face of adversity, people can come together to create something special.
MCRP LA celebrates recovery
Participants from Male Community Reentry Program (MCRP) LA1 (HealthRight 360) and MCRP LA2 (Amity) participated in the 2023 Al-IMPICS. This is the first instance of this event in four years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There were 21 reentry/rehabilitation programs from Los Angeles County that came together to celebrate recovery.
This annual event encourages people to rehabilitate from alcohol, drugs and criminality. The event highlighted wellness, unity, and recreation for the recovering communities in Los Angeles. Many MCRP participants won first, second and third place medals in various sporting categories. The HealthRight 360 Banner design came from two talented LA1 MCRP artists who won first place.
In the Community
CIM contributes to the Chino community
California Institution for Men (CIM) Community Resources Manager’s Office and incarcerated population raised over $5,000. A food sale was held to raise the money for local nonprofit organizations.
CIM is committed to helping those less unfortunate in the community. Because of this, incarcerated people and staff at CIM recognize the importance of these organizations such as Project Sister Family Services, Chino Valley YMCA, and Chino Neighborhood House.
In Our Institutions
COR Alarm Response Training
California State Prison, Corcoran (COR) administers quarterly reality-based alarm response training to engage all staff. The scenarios are realistic and relevant to current interactions staff are experiencing. Attendees training included:
- COR IST manager
- use of force instructors
- alarm response instructors
- armory staff
- and other training-for-trainers staff.
The group collaborated to create a day of training that included four scenario stations. A housing unit hosted the scenario training without incarcerated people present. This allowed staff to be as close to reality as possible.
CIM, CIW, and CRC host education conference
Multiple institutions’ education staff gathered at California Institution for Women (CIW) for a unique opportunity to collaborate and discuss best practices in correctional education. Unlike a traditional conference, the sessions were generated by participants and session facilitators were volunteer attendees of the session.
Session subject matter included:
- differentiated instruction
- working well with custody staff
- time management
- communication with the incarcerated
- and integrating technology into instruction.
Southern Region Academic coaches Deanna Sutherland, William Bradly, and Lilliana Cañez organized the event. Nina Thomas, Southern Region Associate Superintendent, welcomed attendees. Martin Griffin, Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, provided the closing remarks.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. During October, families of victims, survivors, advocates, and the community come together to commemorate the lives lost to domestic violence, celebrate progress made, and network for change. The allied community wears a purple ribbon to show their solidarity and support.
National Disability Employment Awareness Month
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). This annual nationwide recognition highlights the skills, diversity, and talent that people with disabilities bring to the workforce. The month recognizes the important role people with disabilities play in a diverse and inclusive American workforce. NDEAM is a time to celebrate the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities past and present and showcase supportive and inclusive employment policies and practices.
The theme for NDEAM 2023, Advancing Access and Equity: Then, Now, and Next. This promotes the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the first federal legislation to address access and equity for people with disabilities.
To learn more about DAC and its important work, please visit the DAC Intranet Site. New DAC members from CDCR, CCHCS and PIA are always welcome to join our combined committee.
“GotAMinute?” videos feature state employees telling their stories in about 60 seconds or less to inspire broader thinking about the state workforce and share unique aspects of departments and their employees. Each video focuses on interesting facets of an employee’s work or personal life, celebrates their work as a public servant and connects to a broader theme.
The latest video comes from the Department of Industrial Relations. Visit the CalGovOps website to watch the video.
In the Media
Off-duty correctional officer reunites with woman she saved on tennis court
Imagine going to the tennis courts to play a few matches with some friends and the next thing you know, you’re waking up in the hospital. That’s what happened to a San Diego woman, Nancy Willis, who went into cardiac arrest at the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club on Dec. 19, 2022.
It was just another off day for California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Correctional Officer Yanira Hernandez. She went to play tennis at the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club, but things quickly turn into a life-or-death situation.
“I just heard commotion,” Correctional Officer Hernandez said. “I looked over there again, I just thought, ‘There is something going on over there,’ so I just went into mission mode.
Her quick actions ultimately helped save another person’s life.
‘Farm to corrections’ provides fresh produce to people in prison
Serving slices of watermelon on the Fourth of July is a long-standing tradition at some facilities within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. But this July, there was something different about the watermelon offered to the approximately 8,000 residents at California State Prison Solano, California Medical Facility and Folsom State Prison.
It was juicy, it was sweet. It was “scrumdiddlyumptious,” according to one resident. And it was grown on a California family farm.
The three institutions are part of a “farm to corrections” project, Harvest of the Month, which aims to serve seasonal, locally grown produce to people who are incarcerated in California, while opening new opportunities for California farmers.
CSUDH offers new master’s program for incarcerated people for fall 2023
Dozens of people incarcerated in California state prisons will now have the opportunity to obtain a master’s degree from Cal State Dominguez Hills.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and CSUDH have teamed up to offer a master’s degree in humanities for incarcerated individuals — called the HUX program — starting this fall. It marks the first graduate degree program provided through a partnership between the correctional agency and a state university, officials say.
The fall 2023 cohort includes 33 students from 11 different prison facilities across the state, including Folsom State Prison, San Quentin State Prison and Chuckawalla Valley State Prison.
Program offering Pell Grants to incarcerated people in heavy demand In California
As of this summer, most incarcerated people across the country can apply for a Pell Grant to pay for a higher education. Criminal justice advocates say this is a key step in keeping people from returning to prison. But in California, the demand is already exceeding the supply.