CDCR's Week in Review Archives

CDCR Week in Review: July 1, 2022

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What’s New

CDCR partners with Fresno State to offer bachelor’s degree program

A teacher helps a student with paperwork

A new program offered by Fresno State is helping CDCR expand access to higher education opportunities for the incarcerated population.

The accredited program will allow incarcerated students at Valley State Prison and Central California Women’s Facility to earn a bachelor’s degree in social science through face-to-face coursework from Fresno State instructors.

Students are responsible for tuition, fees, textbooks, and materials associated with college course enrollment but may be eligible for a Second Chance Pell Grant through the college in which they are enrolled.

Read the press release.

Five pilot sites transition to new tablet service

This is an important update regarding a pilot program five institutions have had in place since 2018. In this program, incarcerated people were able to purchase, or be provided for free, a tablet that allows secure electronic messages to be sent and received, approved photos and videos to be downloaded, and other content to be purchased or downloaded for free. This contract ends on June 30, 2022, and all services will end.

However, once that program ends, participants will be given a tablet for free as part of a six-year contract with Viapath Technologies (VPT). This contract allows CDCR to provide a free tablet to every incarcerated person. Tablets began distribution on a phased basis in summer 2021 and continue to be rolled out. VPT representatives will be on-site July 1, 2022, at Central California Women’s Facility, California Institution for Women, High Desert State Prison, Kern Valley State Prison, and Substance Abuse Treatment Facility on July 1 to distribute the new tablets.

More information will be provided in the coming weeks regarding how that content will be transferred to the new VPT tablets, as well as any unused funds remaining for tablet content.

Additionally, beginning July 1 print services begin to be provided by VPT. This service allows family and friends to buy “stamps” to send electronic messages that mailroom staff print and deliver to the incarcerated recipient. These services will be suspended at institutions that have not implemented VPT tablets until the tablets are in use.

Upward Mobility

Danny Samuel has been appointed warden at California Men’s Colony, where he has been Acting Warden since 2021 and has served in several positions since 1997, including Chief Deputy Warden, Associate Warden, Classification and Parole Representative, Correctional Counselor and Correctional Officer.

Heather Shirley has been appointed warden at Wasco State Prison, where she has been Acting Warden since 2020 and Chief Deputy Warden from 2016 to 2020. Shirley was Associate Warden at the Division of Adult Institutions from 2015 to 2016. She held several positions at California State Prison, Solano between 2010 and 2015, including Associate Warden and Captain. Shirley also held several positions at California Medical Facility from 2000 to 2010, including Correctional Lieutenant, Correctional Sergeant and Correctional Officer.

Joshua Prudhel has been appointed chief deputy warden at California State Prison-Sacramento.


Three CDCR employees at a recruitment booth.

The Specialized Recruitment and Outreach Unit (SROU) participated in the recent Sacramento LGBT Community Center’s “You Betta Work” Fair. During the event, SROU coached participants on the state selection process, provided insight on the benefits of working for CDCR and the State of California, and discussed career opportunities tailored specifically to each individual’s skill set.

This event provided a remarkable opportunity to connect with LGBTQ+ community job seekers and demonstrate CDCR’s commitment to fostering a diverse workplace where cultural diversity, backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, and unique identities are honored, valued, and supported. Overall this event was a major success!

Department representatives were Corina Zamora, Crysta Peele, and Bridget Kennedy.


Man with painted white face participates in a theater program

Photographer Peter Merts has published a new book of photographs documenting the talent, dedication, creativity, and authenticity of artists incarcerated in state prisons.

Merts will talk about his new book, “Ex Crucible: The Passion of Incarcerated Artists” at an upcoming event in San Francisco.

The event takes place at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 17, at Book Passage, One Ferry Building 42, San Francisco,

4 participating graduates and guests.

CCTRP celebrates successes

It has been a busy start to summer for the Custody to Community Transitional Reentry Program (CCTRP).

CCTRP Santa Fe Springs held a special house meeting to celebrate the high school graduation accomplishments of four participants. Afterward, the participants were able to attend the actual graduation ceremony at Whitter Adult School, walk the stage in cap and gown, and receive their diplomas.

CCTRP Santa Fe Springs also hosted a graduation ceremony for the participants who completed program requirements and are preparing for release. Participants were recognized for their achievements and are deemed ready to reintegrate into the community as productive citizens.

Job Fair interactions

The Sacramento location saw 11 participants attend a recent job fair. This particular cohort had previously attended an eight-week employability course to gain job-seeking skills. The job fair allowed the participants to engage with actual potential employers and use their new skill sets.

CCTRP allows eligible participants to serve their sentence in the community at a CCTRP as designated by CDCR, in lieu of confinement in state prison. The CCTRP provides a range of rehabilitative services that assist with alcohol and drug recovery, employment, education, housing, family reunification, and social support.


The Council on Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health (CCJBH) is proud to announce the launch of a new logo to celebrate 20 years of building bridges to prevent incarceration. The first meeting of the Council convened at the Board of Prison Terms in Sacramento on August 27, 2002. Since then, the Council has continued investigating, identifying, and promoting cost-effective strategies that prevent adults and juveniles with behavioral health needs from becoming incarcerated; identifying incentives for state and local justice and health programs to adopt such approaches; reporting activities to the legislature; and providing recommendations for improving the cost-effectiveness of existing behavioral health and criminal justice programs.

Upcoming CCJBH meetings and workgroups include:

Juvenile Justice Workgroup
When: July 15, 2022, 12:45-2:45 p.m. (advance registration not required)
Where: In person at Board of Parole Hearings, 1515 K St. Suite 550, Sacramento, CA 95811, and virtually via Microsoft Teams
Call-in: (916) 701-9994, Phone Conference ID: 361 038 345#

Diversion and Reentry Workgroup
When: July 15, 2022, 3-5 p.m. (advance registration not required)
Where: In person at Board of Parole Hearings, 1515 K St. Suite 550, Sacramento, CA 95811, and virtually via Microsoft Teams
Call-in: (916) 701-9994, Phone Conference ID: 840 315 765#

CCJBH Full Council Meeting
When: July 29, 2022, 2-4:30 p.m.
Where: In person at 8260 Longleaf Drive, Building C, Suite 101, Elk Grove, CA 95758, and virtually via Zoom.

In the Media

Inside San Quentin State Prison, a place where minds can be free

People sit in the library at San Quentin State Prison

Dennis Jefferson is a great reader. His taste is wide-ranging and eclectic. Among the recent books he’s enjoyed are Bryan Stevenson’s “Just Mercy,” Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Klara and the Sun,” and “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey,” by Walter Mosley.

Jefferson is also incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, where he was sent after being convicted of killing his wife. 

And he’s lucky, because San Quentin has a library that has few rivals in the state prison system. It currently houses 15,000 titles. There’s access to LexisNexis databases, and Senior Librarian Gabriel Loiederman even runs a monthly book club for the population. 

A recent Friday morning found the library buzzing. Nearly every seat was filled and incarcerated people crowded the front desks with book requests. Behind the counter are incarcerated people on staff who retrieve books for their fellow prisoners and learn library skills, including the Dewey Decimal System, inventory and collection development. 

Read the full story.

Prison’s construction training program is rehabilitation at its best

Construction workers pour concrete

Monday through Friday, I wake up about 4:30 a.m. I perform my usual routine of washing up, having my cup of coffee while I read my Bible and watching the morning news. I’m waiting for the weather forecast and to see if there are any alerts on the freeways. I am preparing myself mentally for the day’s work. 

I have concrete set up for 7 a.m., but I need to be on the job site early to make sure the screed pins are set up, the elevation lines are snapped and that I have straight two-by-fours for the expansion joints and to screed with. I need to be ready, because when the concrete arrives, I have no time to spare. It’s showtime. 

When the concrete arrives, I start backing the cement truck up to the slab. I put a couple of shoots on and tell the driver to run a little mud down, so that I can see if the concrete is too wet, too dry or mixed correctly. It looks a little dry, so I shout to the driver to add five gallons of water and mix it well. When done, I start to pour. 

Read the full story.

Inside CDCR Top 5

3,838     Pride Month Staff Spotlight: Officer Mandi Hauwert

3,472     Incarcerated artists give kids the gift of skateboarding

1,616     Salinas Valley prison raises thousands for youth sports

1,212     CDCR recognizes National HVAC Tech Day

1,180     CDCR launches ‘Unlocked’ podcast

Social Media

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