CDCR podcast kicks off season 2 by talking tech
Dr. Lynne Ruvalcaba with the CDCR Office of Education is truly passionate about education. In the first episode of season 2 of the CDCR Unlocked Podcast, she shares how her team, in collaboration with Enterprise Information Services, is transforming what correctional education looks like.
CDCR is rolling out about 30,000 secure laptops to incarcerated students attending face-to-face college programs. This initiative increases access to education for incarcerated students. It also teaches them how to use new or unfamiliar technology. These skills help individuals find jobs, stay connected with loved ones, and continue learning.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, audio calls made from standard institution wall phones and tablets by an incarcerated person in a California state prison are free of charge to the incarcerated person and their friends and families. The change is in response to the passing of Senate Bill (SB) 1008, the Keep Families Connected Act.
“CDCR is fully committed to maintaining positive bonds between incarcerated people and their loved ones,” said CDCR Secretary Jeff Macomber. “Making audio calls free removes the financial barriers and burdens to the population and their support system, we hope this will have a positive impact on the rehabilitative process.”
Other than institution-set hours of operations for calling times and the 15-minute per-call time limit, there is no cap on the number of free audio calls incarcerated people can make. Calls can be made domestic or internationally from the standard institutional wall phones, as well as tablets where available.
In our Institutions
NKSP makes prom night special for special needs students
North Kern State Prison (NKSP) Warden (A) Kevin Hixon and Chief Deputy Warden (A) Carlos Arce presented a check for $2,500 to the 2022-2023 Delano Joint Union High School District Special Needs Student Prom. The funds were from the NKSP Nonprofit Account and Delano Employee Liaison Association.
“This donation is to provide a special night for a great group of students,” Hixon enthused. “We are thankful to be able to take part in such a great experience.”
“We would like to thank Warden (A) Kevin Hixon and his staff for their generous donation for the 2022-2023 Special Needs Prom,” shared Erica Lopez, Special Education Health Care Aide. “With this, we will be able to help give our special students a night they’ll never forget.”
CIM reflects on a busy 2022
California Institution for Men (CIM) Warden (A) John Merchant shared an end-of-year message with CIM staff, including some major highlights for the institution in 2022.
“I can honestly say, without hesitation, that CIM staff embodies the CDCR vision and mission by performing their duties with a spirit of service, leadership, integrity, accountability, and collaboration.”
- Captain Banuelos honored at 2022 Medal of Valor ceremony
- More than 40 families adopted at annual “Adopt-A-Family” holiday event
- Deployed 223 laptops to education
- More than 12,500 contact and video visits
- $49,757 raised through incarcerated fundraising benefiting Chino Valley Unified School District, Special Olympics, City of Chino HOPE Center
- First public graduation since 2020 awarded 43 GEDs, four associate degrees, and 30 Chaffey Community College face-to-face program graduates
- 3,324 hours of In-Service Training provided
RJD ensures happy holiday for kids in need
This Christmas season was rung in with brunch with Santa at the Rosarito Beach Hotel, thanks to the Correctional Officers, Fire Captain, and staff at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD).
Children in need received and array of clothes and presents. With a profound commitment to spending time with those who are less fortunate, RJD staff, family, and friends came together to make this unforgettable event possible. This cherished event results in moments of sheer euphoria for these special children.
A very merry event at CTF
Correctional Training Facility (CTF) in collaboration with Veterans Healing Veterans from the Inside Out, hosted the first Visiting Day Christmas Toy Drive Event
The nonprofit organization assists incarcerated veterans with trauma recovery and suicide prevention. Santa Claus asked the Watch Commander to assist with the event on his behalf. So, he donned his Santa outfit, arrived in a fire truck, and handed out more than 300 new, donated toys and gifts to children of incarcerated parents housed at CTF.
A day of theater and family at SAC
California State Prison – Sacramento’s Actors’ Gang (AG) Prison Project group recently performed for their families. The family presentation allowed loved ones and community members to witness the work participants undertake in AG. Photographer Peter Merts was there to document the event.
For some participants in the program, the family presentation created an opportunity to connect with their family members for the first time in many years, and to be seen by their loved ones in a healthy, playful, creative, and productive environment. Connection with family and community is an extremely important part of rehabilitation. Therefore, it is an essential element of the program.
Using a highly physical and emotional style of theater as a tool, the program creates a supportive space in which the participants can express their fears, choose empathy over anger, overcome gang barriers and prepare for life after prison.
Archbishop visits San Quentin
The Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone returned to San Quentin State Prison’s Catholic Chapel to celebrate the traditional Christmas Eve Mass for the first time since 2019. COVID-19 restrictions prevented the Archbishop from visiting the prison in 2020 and 2021.
San Quentin residents filled the chapel to capacity for the event. The Archbishop talked about wanting to return to San Quentin throughout the pandemic. He saw many new faces and attributed the change to the release of more familiar faces from the past.
The presence of the Archbishop awed San Quentin resident Gabriel Ordenain: “No one at this level performs a traditional Christmas [Eve] Mass for incarcerated Christians,” he said. “Archbishop Cordileone’s presence ensured our Christmas was with God.”
In another celebration, San Quentin’s Native American Community hosted an annual Pow Wow event in the Chapel B area. This was the first gathering in the past two years. The attendees celebrated with song and dance and performed a traditional “stomp dance.” They danced in remembrance of family who were lost and to remove all of the bad spirits from one’s body.
Check out CALPIA’s Report to the Legislature. This report was approved by the Prison Industry Board at its Board meeting in December. CALPIA’s Report to the Legislature contains useful information and pictures about the organization including job training highlights and success stories.
Some of the features of the report include CALPIA’s Industry Employment Program which provides incarcerated participants access to nationally accredited certifications which help with future employment.
In the Media
Over 4,000 sandbags have been put together to protect homes from flooding in Chualar. The sandbags were filled up by The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Gabilan Crew.