2023 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) 2023 is observed April 23-29, 2023. This year’s theme, “Survivor Voices: Elevate. Engage. Effect Change.” – encourages people to listen to survivors of crime and create environments where they are believed and supported.
CDCR Unlocked sat down with Katie James, Chief of CDCR’s Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services (OSVRS). Here, James shares the many services OSVSRS has to offer, including collecting restitution and being notified of changes in an incarcerated person’s sentence. OSVRS also makes possible in restorative justice programs designed to bring healing to communities harmed by crime as well as hold responsible parties accountable in meaningful ways.
A message from the Secretary during NCVRW 2023
CDCR and CCHCS join communities throughout the country in commemorating National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW). This year’s NCVRW is observed April 23-29. CDCR Secretary
Victims’ rights have always held deep significance to me, and this year’s theme is particularly meaningful: “Survivor Voices: Elevate. Engage. Effect Change.” This theme reminds us of the importance of hearing and amplifying victims’ voices in all we do as corrections professionals.
This year marks 35 years for CDCR’s Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services (OSVRS). My career at CDCR began as a student assistant in OSVRS, and that experience has informed every job I’ve held at CDCR since.
OSVRS and the Division of Rehabilitative Programs (DRP) continue to enhance restorative justice programs throughout state prisons, all designed to heal communities harmed by crime. It is CDCR’s duty to provide opportunities for people who have harmed others to understand what the root causes of their actions are, and to provide the tools to make better choices. While individual amends to a victim or their loved ones may not be possible, we can help people recognize the hard they have caused, and make their amends. This can be tangible, such as paying direct restitution, or can take the form of a successful return to community that ends a cycle of victimization.
Please join me, today and every day, in honoring the victims’ community and ensuring their voices continue to be heard.
Parole Justice Works launches website to support victims
Parole Justice Works launched their website supporting victims and survivors in honor of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW). The website is for victims and survivors who want to understand and prepare for California’s parole process.
The launch embraces this year’s theme of NCVRW, Survivor Voices: Elevate. Engage. Effect Change. It provides victims and survivors with transparent information to empower them to find their voice in the parole process.
CCTRP observes Autism Awareness month
Custody to Community Transitional Reentry Program (CCTRP) participated in an Autism Awareness event to help raise awareness of developmental disorders.
The group learned how to bring change and acceptance into the lives of individuals with autism, their families, and their communities. Participants created posters, sensory item stations, read educational books, and wore blue in honor of Autism Awareness month.
At the Capitol
Jeff Macomber’s appointment as the next Secretary of CDCR was unanimously approved by the Senate Rules Committee with a 5-0 vote. The confirmation now heads to a vote of the full Senate body in the coming weeks.
In Our Institutions
LAC hosts ‘It Can Be Done!’ event
California State Prison, Los Angeles County (LAC) hosted the “It Can Be Done!” event on April 24.
The incarcerated population gathered to hear from a panel of four parolees who spoke about overcoming their immediate circumstances to become contributing members of society.
Each member of the panel paroled from LAC. They were able to provide unique insight to the incarcerated attendees who are housed there today.
SCC incident training
Sierra Conservation Center’s (SCC) In-Service Training office coordinated an incident training drill with community partners.
The training involved riot control, fire response, medical treatment, and transportation. The incident training lasted about two hours and involved nearly one hundred and twenty people.
A post-training meeting concluded the event, followed by a barbecue lunch from SCC California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA).
CHCF holds its Earth Day event
California Health Care Facility (CHCF) held the first “Chalk it up” event for Earth Day. Both CHCF staff and incarcerated people participated in the event.
Each housing unit came together for a friendly competition and E4 dorm won Best Earth Day Mural.
Staff Misconduct Process – Project Executive
Associate Director of the Budget Management Branch Justin Adelman will serve as the Project Executive for the Allegations of Staff Misconduct Process project for the next 90 days.
YPMP graduation at VSP
Valley State Prison (VSP) held a graduation ceremony for the Youth Peer Mentor Program (YPMP). The theme of the graduation ceremony was “Pay it forward.”
Friends, family, former incarcerated individuals, and CDCR staff, including Director of Adult Institutions Connie Gipson, attended the graduation ceremony.
“The measure of growth is not how far we have come, but how much we have improved ourselves and how much we have helped others along the way,” said Warden Matthew McVay. YPMP makes a positive impact on youth offenders by providing role models who help break the incarceration cycle and reach their full potential.
WSP ISUDT graduation
The Amity Foundation at Wasco State Prison-Reception Center (WSP) hosted an Integrated Substance Use Disorder Treatment (ISUDT) graduation ceremony for 50 graduates.
The graduation included speeches from:
- Warden Heather Shirley
- Program Director Holly Bishop
- Division of Rehabilitative Programs Chief Andre Gonzales
- CCIII Arlene Garcia.
Four graduates shared their testimonials and OMCP Mentor David Riley performed two original songs.
The graduates attended a conclusion ceremony with sandwiches, desserts, beverages, and had their photos taken by WSP TV Specialist Rick Scott.
In the Community
CMF food fundraisers
California Medical Facility (CMF) held two separate food fundraisers.
In honor of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, CMF hosted a bake sale fundraiser at Texas Roadhouse in Fairfield. Funds raised are donated to Victims Empowerment Support Team (VEST) in Solano County.
Additionally, CMF hosted a Dine & Donate fundraiser at Buddha Thai Bistro in Vacaville. 20% of proceeds from dine in or takeout sales are donated to the Fallen Officers fund for National Correctional Officers Week.
NKSP donates to local high school
North Kern State Prison (NKSP) donated a check to the McFarland High School Media Arts on April 17. The check was for over $7,000. Funds were raised from Reception Food Sale.
“If we are able to assist one child in realizing their full potential and help keep them off the streets and away from the prison system, then I feel that we have won. We look forward to seeing what the McFarland High School Media Arts department will do in the future,” said NKSP Warden Kevin Hixon.
ASP food sales for charity
Avenal State Prison (ASP) held multiple food sales for their incarcerated population to raise money for charity.
The incarcerated population chose Reef-Sunset Unified School District (RSUSD) and the Special Olympics of Northern California to donate. The food sold included Boston Pizza and Colima Tacos y Mariscos. The incarcerated population was able to raise over $8k for the charities.
In the Media
Breaking the Chain: From prison to higher education and theater
For Stephanie Majsterski, life inside of prison was bleak— until she set her eyes upon a photo of a formerly incarcerated person in a cap and gown.
“While I was in prison at the California Institution for Women, I saw a picture taped on the wall of a girl in a cap and gown at SDSU. I was asking everybody, ‘Why is there a picture of a girl at SDSU?’” Majsterski said. “Someone told me, ‘Oh that’s ‘Bankrobber,’ that’s Laura, she did 20 years, and she got out. She became a master’s student at SDSU with Project Rebound. Now she’s a professor.’ I never forgot that picture of her in her cap and gown. I knew that that was my dream.”
More than half the people released from California prisons did not re-offend
More than half the people who were released from California prisons did not re-offend, according to a new report conducted by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
And roughly the other half were convicted of misdemeanors, mostly for drug and alcohol crimes, the CDCR study released on April 14 found.
2,700 people at CMC take part in inaugural A Day For Atonement event
The California Men’s Colony held the inaugural “A Day for Atonement” ceremony Friday as the start of a three-day fundraising event in support of crime victims and restorative justice programs.
San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow was the keynote speaker at Friday morning’s event and bore witness to the presentations regarding the impact crime has on its victims.
Bay Area firefighting program offers lift for formerly incarcerated people
When Benjamin Fowler was serving a second 10-year prison term, he didn’t see a clear path forward to a new life after his time was up. He was in his mid-30s, with a young son, a teenage daughter and a 2023 release date. He figured he would try to get back into landscaping or become a carpenter.
Then in September 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 2147 into law, allowing people who served as inmate firefighters to have their records expunged. Prior to its passage, many inmates were unemployable as firefighters after leaving prison because of their criminal records — even if they had spent years doing the exact same job, and even though California had a shortage of firefighters.