CDCR's Week in Review Archives

Week in Review: April 14, 2023

What’s New?

A family poses with the Easter bunny.
CIM’s Easter celebration was fun for employees and visitors.

Easter activities delight at visiting events statewide

Institutions throughout the state hosted Easter-themed visitation events. These fun-filled days provided quality time for families, fun activities for children, and brought a sense of normalcy to the weekend. Below is a roundup of just some of the special moments captured during the events.

“We would like to extend our appreciation and gratitude to you and your staff’s participation in hosting an Easter Event for the incarcerated population and their families,” said Jennifer Benavidez, Associate Director (A), Female Offender Programs and Services. “Visiting plays an integral part in the rehabilitation process and you and staff’s hard work and dedication to that goal has not gone unnoticed.”

California Institution for Men (CIM) hosted an Easter-themed visitation event on April 8. Easter bags were given to each child who visited. The bags were donated by Associate Warden E. Mejia, Captain M. Ramirez, Lieutenant S. Taylor, Sergeant E. Gonzalez, and wrapped with the help of the CRM’s Office. The children received crayons and coloring pages as well as assorted candy. The Easter Bunny was also present and shared high fives and laughs with minor and adult visitors.

“It is great to see staff collaborating with the incarcerated population and their families. This is a testament to the character of all CIM staff,” said Warden (A) John Merchant.

California Medical Facility (CMF) transformed the visiting room into an “Easter Wonderland” with an Easter themed photo booth, dyeing eggs, playing games, serving delicious treats, and an Easter egg hunt.

“I would like to thank our extraordinary visiting staff for ensuring our incarcerated population and their loved ones had a happy and memorable Easter holiday,” said Acting Warden Daniel E. Cueva.

Folsom State Prison (FSP) provided activities for the children including a movie, popcorn, Easter music ring toss game, bunny ear darts game, and face-painting. There was an Easter egg hunt with candy and prize tickets hidden inside. The Easter Bunny also made a special appearance.

FSP staff also attended the Euniece Law Annual “Blessed Easter Distribution” in Oakland. FSP collaborated with the Cameron Park Rotary Club and Alameda County Probation Department to provide 49 bicycles. The Easter celebration featured 400 stuffed eggs for children ages 0-4 and 600 fully stuffed baskets for children ages 5 and older. 500 goodie bags were donated by Argent Materials.

San Quentin State Prison hosted an Easter Spectacular event featuring a drawing station for the children, SQ band, Easter decorations, and Leroy the Easter Bunny. Warden Oak Smith and his wife, Michelle, passed out cotton candy and popcorn for attendees. Children were also given an Easter goodie bag at the end of the event.

Wasco State Prison Warden Heather Shirley, WSP management, and the visiting team organized an Easter event at Wasco State Prison‑Reception Center (WSP). Children crafted bunny ear hats and faces with their incarcerated loved ones. This was the first time many of them had been able to do crafts with their family.  All children also received a goodie bag at the end of the event.

Correctional Training Facility staff donated Easter eggs, bags, crayons, and candy for the event. There was an Easter egg hunt in family visiting, a coloring contest, and games. Each child who attended received an Easter basket filled with goodies.

California Institution for Women volunteers from various activity groups collaborated with CIW staff to put on the event. Easter themed decorations lined the visiting room and Easter baskets were displayed and offered to all children in attendance. There was an Easter egg hunt held on the playground. The event was sponsored by various donations from staff and local organizations.

California Health Care Facility visitation staff held Easter weekend activities with the incarcerated population and their families. Face painting, coloring contests with prizes, decorating eggs, Easter hip-hop, and posing for pictures with Peter Cottontail were included in the festivities.

Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp celebrated Easter with Correctional Supervising Cook (CSC) Barbara Moreau teaching Youth Kitchen workers how to make baked goods.


CDCR issues recidivism reports

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) published two reports examining the recidivism outcomes of formerly incarcerated individuals released in Fiscal Years (FY) 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. The 2017/18 report is the first CDCR data available examining the recidivism among those impacted by Proposition 57, overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2016.

Learn more about the recidivism reports.

“This is the first cohort of released people after the passage of Proposition 57, and it is encouraging to see that credit-earning opportunities, particularly in education-led programs, is having a positive impact to improve public safety,” said Jeff Macomber, Secretary, CDCR. “Our focus has been and continues to be on creating an environment in prison that provides vital resources to the incarcerated population so that they can become better citizens upon release.”

For more than 40 years, CDCR has studied recidivism by examining arrests, convictions and returns to prison in the three years following the date of a person’s release. This is the nationally recognized primary measure of recidivism. The newly published reports examine the 31,792 people released from CDCR custody in FY 2016-17 and the 35,447 people released in FY 2017-18.


Three women, one holding a dog, the other standing in front of Folsom Prison
Marlena Scherer, Ja’Nita Becerra, and Gwendolyn Hammer.

Message for World Health Day from Nurse Consultant Program Review staff

As World Health Day comes around, CCHCS asked the Nurse Consultant Program Review staff what they felt is rewarding about working in Public Health:

“It is the Umbrella that covers the entire spectrum of health care services. As a Nurse Consultant, PR in the HQ Public Health Program, I am excited by the opportunities I have to ensure our program policies meet current standards of practice so that we can optimize the health of the incarcerated population,” said Marlena L. Scherer, BSN, RN, PHN.

“For almost 40 years, I have worked within public health at the international, federal, state, and local levels. My greatest reward has been working with both headquarters and institutional staff, sharing my public health skills and knowledge. I met some of the best people ever, and this included people from our resident population. Thank you for welcoming public health into your institutions and lives!” said Gwendolyn Hammer, PhD, MSN, BSN, APRN-BC.

“It’s witnessing the positive impact health promotion can have on the incarcerated population. Navigating public health care needs in corrections requires innovation, flexibility, and creativity due to complex social and environmental factors. Health promotion focuses on educating and empowering the whole patient in corrections and beyond,” stated Ja’Nita Becerra, NCPR.

Seven people in a line holding an oversized check.

CRC donates to local Autism Society

California Rehabilitation Center (CRC) donated $4,500 to a local Autism Society in honor of Autism Awareness Month. Representative for the Autism Society Inland Empire Melissa Cardona said the donation will be able to help provide services for families.

A man in a black jacket and red shirt stands at the Wheel of Fortune wheel.

3 Questions with…

Joseph Alexander Pimentel, Correctional Officer

With almost 30 years working for CDCR, Ironwood State Prison (ISP) Correctional Officer Joseph Alexander “Alex” Pimentel is no rookie when it comes to pressure. His composure would be tested in the final round of Wheel of Fortune with a trip to Cancun, a BMW, and thousands of dollars on the line.

An avid Wheel of Fortune viewer, Pimentel was confident he would be a great contestant to have on the show.

“My wife and I often watch this show together as we eat dinner. After countless times of me saying, ‘I can do that,’ my wife suggested that I apply as a contestant and do it,” he said.

He applied, waited four months, and was contacted by the show. They administered a pre-show test and after solving a few puzzles, he passed the test, competing on the Wheel of Fortune on February 27.

He successfully made it to the “Bonus Round,” where he won big. Pimentel walked away with a trip to Cancun, $15,000 cash, and an X1 BMW SUV. By the end of it all, his winnings totaled $65,525.

Pimentel began his CDCR career in 1994 at ISP where he remains today. He says he is thankful for his time at ISP.

“I am planning to retire here soon. I have made many friends that I hope to stay in touch with for many years to come. Being an officer has been a great experience that has taught me to appreciate life in a way I hadn’t before,” Pimentel said.

When did you realize you were good at puzzles?

I have been a fan of crossword puzzles since I was a teenager, and have been watching this show for years. I was hoping to win something on the show, but it was more than I expected.

How have you put these abilities to work for CDCR?

I feel like crossword puzzles are great brain exercise. Doing puzzles is great for keeping the brain sharp and that is important in this line of work.

How did your ISP coworkers respond when they learned of your win?

My coworkers had a blast making fun of my first puzzle I blew. I asked for an H after the prior contestant asked for an H and it wasn’t on the board. It was all in good fun and everyone has been very congratulatory about my winnings. Coming back to work after the show was aired was fun. There were lots of high fives and poking fun at my first two puzzles. One thing I learned is that it’s easy solving puzzles at home on the couch, but when the cameras and the lights come on, it’s a whole new ball game.


A man in a cap and gown shakes hands with a woman handing him a diploma.

Valley State Prison hosts OMCP graduation

Valley State Prison (VSP) held a graduation ceremony for the Offender Mentor Certification Program (OMCP), where the focus was on personal growth and positive change.

OMCP is a mentorship program. Potential mentors must complete self-help components such as Integrated Substance Use Disorder Treatment (ISUDT), skill-building courses, and classroom education on alcohol and other drugs (AOD).

“The OMCP graduates have shown incredible resilience and determination to complete this program. They have taken responsibility for their past actions and have worked hard to transform themselves. They are now equipped with the tools to be positive influences in their communities, and I have no doubt that they will continue to make positive changes in their lives and inspire others to do the same,” said Warden Matthew McVay.

The OMCP graduates were able to invite their family members to share in their achievement. The graduation ceremony concluded with a celebratory meal.

A man and a woman play guitars.

Incendio Performs at ASP

Musicians Liza Carbe and Jean Pierre Durand from the band Incendio visited Avenal State Prison (ASP). For three days, the duo shared their Latin-based world-fusion music with the incarcerated population. 

Incendio has been performing together for over two decades and bring a unique blend of music.

Incarcerated audience members made requests and asked questions of the performers.  Members of an ASP band commented on how much they appreciated the representation and how Incendio reinforced their passion for music.

Community Service

Seven people stand with a sign and adaptive bicycles.

VSP distributes bikes

Valley State Prison (VSP) held their first Adaptive Bike Distribution.  The bicycles were distributed to Merced County of Office Education. VSP’s Adaptive Bicycle Program serves disabled and impaired individuals of all ages. 

The Adaptive Bicycle Project is a combined effort of:

  • Valley State Prison
  • Madera County Office of Education
  • Merced County Office of Education
  • Valley Lutheran Church
  • other vested stakeholders. 

The program collaborated with General Builders Supply and Home Depot to collect donated bikes, parts, tools, and materials. The supplies are hand fabricated by the incarcerated population to create new custom adaptive bicycles.

A man stands at a lectern in front of a presentation titled "Treatment of Substance Use DIsorders in Justice Involved Clients"

CHCF cross-training brings disciplines together

California Health Care Facility (CHCF) hosted a three day cross training event at the CDCR Stockton Parole Office and Saint Mary’s High School in Stockton.

The cross training consisted of CHCF custody staff, DRP Alcohol and Other Drug counselor contractor staff, medical staff, and mental health staff. Notable attendance included:

  • CenterPoint Inc.
  • California Correctional Health Care Services
  • Division of Rehabilitative Programs (DRP)
  • University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
  • Center for Criminality and Addiction Research, Training and Application (CCARTA).    
A man and a woman, the woman holds an award.

2023 Salute to Public Safety awards

California Institution for Men (CIM) attended the 2023 Salute to Public Safety awards ceremony at the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce on April 4.

Those in attendance included:

  • California Institution for Women
  • Chino Police Department
  • Chino Valley Fire District
  • San Bernardino County Sheriff-Chino Hills Police Department
  • Chino Police Department.

CIM selected Labor Relation Analyst (LRA) Angela Wirth as the Employee of the Year. Warden (A) John Merchant presented her with the Award.

She has worked for CDCR since 2006. She has served as the President of the Chino Valley Employees’ Association.

“Angela enjoys helping her co-workers and giving back to her community. She has played a major role as a granter, aiding children with chronic and debilitative illnesses at the Inland Empire Make-A-Wish Foundation,” said Warden Merchant.

In the Media

A group of incarcerated men hold a sign that says KALW UNCUFFED

Meet the 2023 Uncuffed crew at Solano State Prison

The 90 thousand men incarcerated in California are more than numbers. They all have stories to tell. That’s what Uncuffed, our radio production program inside state prisons, is all about.

From playwriting to computer networking, to listening to rock music. In this episode of Crosscurrents, our new group of producers at Solano State Prison in Vacaville talk about their memories, their dreams, and why they want to make radio.

Click here to read the rest of the KALW article.

Two teens, one with his face painted white, wearing Every 15 Minuts shirts.

DUI simulation program ‘life-changing,’ say Turlock students, parents
Jamel Foreman knew it was a simulation. He knew that his son, Turlock High senior J.T. Foreman, would be playing a role in the Every 15 Minutes program’s staged auto accident.

And, yet, knowing it was a charade made it no easier for him when he had to identify his son in the Stanislaus County Coroner’s Office.

“It was difficult,” said Foreman, who did not know beforehand which role his son would be assigned. “Even though you know in your mind that it’s all made up, going to the coroner’s office was eye-opening.

Click here to read the rest of the TurlockJournal Article.

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Social Media

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