Dobson‑Davis receives Community Spirit Award
Longtime CDCR employee Velda Dobson-Davis, now retired, received Envisioning Justice Solutions’ (EJS) 2023 Community Spirit Award. Dobson-Davis received the award at a San Francisco Giants baseball game.
Dobson-Davis began her career with CDCR in 1978 as an Assistant Clerk at California Medical Facility (CMF) in Vacaville. She retired in 2012 as Chief Deputy Warden of Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF). She soon after returned as a Retired Annuitant to continue spreading her knowledge throughout CDCR.
Jason Ortiz keeps CDCR prepared
As emergency situations occur, CDCR always plans to stay one step ahead. Whether that be through planning, administering information, or stocking up on gear, the department wants to ensure it’s ready. CDCR and CCHCS staff have been trained and prepared for how to handle these situations.
Jason Ortiz, Office of Correctional Safety (OCS) Senior Emergency Services Coordinator, has stayed ready throughout his career with CDCR.
In 2022, Ortiz was awarded the Bronze Star.
Inside CDCR asked Ortiz a few questions on what helps him stay prepared and how he has taken precautions over the years.
San Quentin hosts Summer Blast Concert
San Quentin Rehabilitation Center (SQ) hosted a Summer Blast Concert for incarcerated people and volunteers. Attendees enjoyed hip-hop music and messages of faith through lyrical performances as part of the event.
Using their poetic skills and lived-experience, incarcerated artists and outside rappers displayed their talents in a connecting and unifying way. All the music revolved around faith and fellowship.
The event featured finalists from an earlier talent contest at SQ. They performed mostly original songs on stage to a gathered crowd of hundreds.
CDCR grants enhance rehabilitation
The opportunities for rehabilitation in California state prisons don’t end with CDCR-staffed programs. Community-based organizations have run programs in CDCR prisons for decades, generally as volunteers or with private financial support. Years ago, the Division of Rehabilitative Programs (DRP) recognized the potential for community-based programs to make an even bigger impact by expanding their offerings to other institutions.
Thus began CDCR’s grant programs, which support organizations that provide rehabilitative programs statewide. These include programs focused on victim impact, restorative justice, and personal accountability. Visit DRP’s website to learn more about CDCR’s grant programs.
In this week’s episode of the CDCR Unlocked podcast, DRP Deputy Director Kevin Hoffman and Staff Services Manager II Nicki Singh discuss the evolution of grant programs and the importance of community partners in preparing incarcerated people for success.
Apology Letter Bank program visits VSP
Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services (OVSRS) Apology Letter Bank (ALB) program coordinators recently visited Valley State Prison (VSP).
Antonette Ramirez-Rhode and Veronica Pedraza, ALB coordinators, observed a Pathway session. Martina Lutz Schneider and other program facilitators from the Ahimsa Collective Organization facilitated the session.
This program allows an incarcerated person to write an apology letter to their victim, which is considered an important part of the restorative justice process and can serve a vital role in the healing of the victims, as well as the rehabilitation of the person responsible. CDCR then facilitates getting the letter to the victim, but only upon the victim’s request.
Two guest speakers shared their stories during the visit. The first speaker spoke of lifelong abuse in many forms committed by the same people in one survivor’s life. He shared how he chose to set boundaries and continue to overcome.
CTF celebrates Navajo Code Talkers Day with honored guests
Correctional Training Facility (CTF) commemorated Navajo Code Talkers Day with a ceremony at the institution. This event featured guest speakers, a ceremonial wreath-laying, and traditional performances, including:
- Navajo Dance
- Kalpulli Izkalli
- Aztec Dance
- and Haka Dance.
About 50 incarcerated people participated in the performances. Barrios Unidos, The Going Home Project, and the Amity Foundation also presented at the event.
Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated to showcase the rich tapestry of culture, achievements, and contributions that Latinx Americans have shared with this country, those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
On September 14, 1989, President George H.W. Bush became the first president to declare September 15 to October 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month.
The term Hispanic or Latinx refers to a person’s culture or origin, regardless of race. On the 2020 Census form, people were counted as Hispanic, Latinx or Spanish if they could identify as having Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or “another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.”
Hispanic people have become the largest racial or ethnic group in California. This demographic milestone first occurred in 2014, the Los Angeles Times reported, and in 2020, there were about 15.6 million Hispanic people in California, up from 14 million in 2010.
The month encourages appreciation for Hispanic and Latinx Americans by reading books by authors of Hispanic or Latinx origin, watching movies about Hispanic and Latinx culture, going to local events such as festivals, parades, art shows, conferences, community gatherings, and much more that celebrate the contributions of Hispanic and Latinx people.
Submission by GARE Ambassador Nicholas Gonzales
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.
In the Community
DAPO Southern California turns out for Special Olympics
Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) South Coast District participated in the 2023 Law Enforcement Torch Run. The event supports Special Olympics Southern California.
The Orange County Torch Run takes place over the course of three days. Law enforcement agencies pass the Flame of Hope Torch through Southern California to Cal State Long Beach to kick off the summer games. DAPO has participated in this event for over 20 years. This year’s participation totaled 100 supporters who donated and purchased t-shirts to benefit the organization and its athletes.
The DAPO team raised $2,500 through donations. Forty-two runners completed the 1.5-mile run. Active employees, family, retirees and community partners participated in the run.
Gena Jones has been appointed Warden of the California Health Care Facility.
Tristan Lemon has been appointed Warden of Pleasant Valley State Prison.
In the Media
Erasing the past, tattoo removal program gives a second chance
Inside the walls of the former San Quentin State Prison, they are giving some incarcerated people a chance to erase a part of their past, with the relaunch of the Tattoo Removal Program.
The program first started in 2018, but funding was pulled during the COVID pandemic, and this July, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reinstated the program at 10 of its facilities.
Kolby Southwood, who is scheduled for release in 14 months, said the tattoo removal program will help him get a fresh start.
Man sentenced to life in prison reveals how the service dogs he now trains gave him a second chance
David Benguad, TikTok creator and the lead national correspondent for CBS Mornings, recently shared an unexpected story about a man who found redemption through service dogs.
The man in question, Bradley “Woody” Arrowood, served 25 years of a life sentence for murder before being granted the opportunity to plead his case for freedom. His journey from incarcerated person to dog trainer provides a fascinating perspective on rehabilitation and second chances.
In Benguad’s video, he recounted the moment Arrowood first entered his home to train his dog.
CSUDH offers new master 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 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.