CDCR's Week in Review Archives

Week in Review: March 31, 2023

What’s New?

People in correctional officer uniforms hug.

Welcome, new Correctional Officers!

After 13 weeks of training, 230 cadets from class 2-23A of the Basic Correctional Officer Academy (BCOA) graduated as officers.

Marking the occasion, family and friends attended graduation ceremonies at the Richard A. McGee Training Center on March 10. California State Prison-Sacramento Warden Jeff Lynch delivered the keynote address and welcomed 230 new correctional officers into the CDCR family.

Peace Officer Selection and Employee Development (POSED) with the Office of Peace Officer Selection (OPOS) invites all CDCR staff to be recruiters by sharing the benefits and opportunities available in a career as a Correctional Officer.

OPOS is expediting hiring for applicants willing to take positions at High Desert State Prison, Pelican Bay, San Quentin and CSP-Sacramento.

Interested applicants can apply online at

To learn more about the correctional officer selection process, watch this video. 

Join the virtual Pacific Crest Trail Challenge

Picture of hikers in a forest with text that reads Physical Wellness Month"

If you like a challenge, create new habits by participating in a Virtual Physical Wellness Month Trail Challenge.

Did you know the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is 2,689 miles with 6,100,537 steps?  For the month of April, accept this virtual challenge and see how far you can hike along the PCT.

(Go to the Walking4fun website to begin your challenge.)

The website has been made accessible on CDCR work devices. Walking4fun is a free health and fitness program where you can virtually hike some of the amazing trails across the nation.

Once you join, you can compete against other participating CDCR employees. More importantly, it’s a personal challenge designed to help you set and achieve your own goals.

Learn how to join the virtual hiking challenge.

Updated COVID‑19 facial covering guidance for non‑institutional work locations

Facial covering recommendations have been updated CDCR and California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) non-institutional work locations.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced new facial covering guidance for the California public. Effective April 3, 2023, for general community settings, including CDCR/CCHCS non- institutional work locations, CDPH will continue to recommend all individuals wear a facial covering indoors irrespective of vaccination status. Facial coverings will continue to be required if working in an area of active outbreak and will revert to recommended when the outbreak is closed.

Women’s History Month

Thoughts on Women’s History Month with Lisa Heintz, Director of Legislation and Special Projects

Tell us about a woman in your life (past or present) who helped shape your career.

Lisa Heintz

It has been my privilege to work with so many strong, fair-minded, caring women in the department. A quick trip down memory lane starts with women like Sharon Jackson, who I worked with in the Division of Adult Parole Operations, Cheryl Pliler, who I worked with in the Division of Adult Institutions, Dr. Renee Kanan, who I work with in Medical Services, and Barbara Barney-Knox, who I work with in Nursing Services. As mentors, each of these women embraced equity and required it from everyone before it was in a policy. The remind us that at the core, our job was ultimately to make everyone’s life a little bit better, a little bit easier, and a little bit safer.  They knew inherently that by supporting one another and doing the best job we could, we would ultimately make significant differences in people’s lives and prevent future generations from becoming incarcerated.

Why do we need more women in leadership?

Including women in leadership roles allows for additional perspectives and balance. Women in leadership are changing the world. In addition to inspiring and empowering women in their careers, having more women in leadership positions has significant positive impacts in the workplace and among families, including helping to reduce the pay gap and in developing the next generation of leaders.

Fire Camps

A group of people pose behind a large truck.

Fire crews help community with cleanup, flood control

CDCR fire crews work hard year-round to keep communities safe, performing wildfire mitigation projects as well as assisting during storms and performing community service work.

A group of people in orange uniforms in a backyard

Pine Grove Conservation Camp youth recently volunteered to help with the tear-down of equipment for California CareForce, a clinic held at the Amador County Fairgrounds, Plymouth, CA. CAL FIRE Captain D. Grandbois coordinated the volunteer registration. It was a sunny, beautiful day and the youth were excited to give back to the community. 

Fire crews at Prado Conservation Camp continue to assist Tulare County with flood mitigation efforts. This particular fire crew built a retaining wall adjacent to a river expected to overflow. 

Health Care

Patient Safety Week at CMC

A large group of people with a Patient Safety Week banner
California Men’s Colony (CMC) staff put up Patient Safety posters in high traffic areas for both staff and patients. Patient Safety material was provided to patients during visits to the clinics, as well as to the institutional Inmate Advisory Councils, to promote the theme of Medication Without Harm.

Dr. Toche attends recognition for VSP’s Patient Safety Champion

Four people in front of the California seal and state flag

Undersecretary Diana Toche, Undersecretary Tammy Foss, and Special Assistant Courtney Delatorre recently visited Valley State Prison (VSP). During their visit, Toche, Chief Executive Officer Raul Recarey and Chief Nurse Executive Rebecca Cates-Ogletree presented Andrea Olmos (Carr), Associate Governmental Programs Analyst, Nursing Services, with a certificate of appreciation for being selected as VSP’s 2023 Patient Safety (PS) Champion.

VSP’s executive team nominated Olmos for all she does to promote patient and staff safety through her monitoring and oversight of the Electronic Health Care Report (eHCIR) database that is reviewed and discussed in monthly workgroup settings.

Beyond basics of strong work ethics, attention to detail, and proactive engagement, Olmos stays focused on the institution’s eHCIRs by having proper reviewing and closure of reports, ensuring implementation of workgroup recommendations occur, and observing the month-to-month trends in topics of the reports. Evidence of her effectiveness can be seen in VSP’s eHCIR monthly closure rate and the lack of repeating concerns due to root cause issues being addressed as they are first identified.

She stays on top of headquarters reporting changes where she has been able to communicate current and planned CDCR initiatives as they intersect with VSP responses to allegations of deficits in the Health Care Delivery System. Her knowledge and ability to communicate effectively promotes a high level of acceptance of patient safety information by health care managers and front-line employees.

A large group of people

SVSP Nursing Skills Fair

Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) recently conducted a competency-based skills fair. Skills fairs are a significant way of validating competencies, reinforcing practice guidelines, and adding new knowledge. Competency-based learning with skills fairs benefits nursing practice and standardizes care.

The purpose was to refresh different nursing skills and complete annual mandatory competencies. The skills chosen for the fair were based on a needs-assessment evaluation and annual competency requirements. Competency check lists were administered to all attendees. Visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles were captured.

Skills stations included hand hygiene, wound care, injections, vital signs, oxygen administration, Naloxone, and fire extinguisher/CPR.

Nursing staff requested having the skills fair more frequently as it provides more opportunities for refreshing their skills and knowledge. Together the nursing education department and SVSP health care team provided positive support and presence making the event a success

Division of Juvenile Justice

DJJ youth celebrate Black History Month

A young man draws with a pencil on a pad of paper
Youth Omar J. won VYCF’s 2023 Black History Art Contest.

Three young men were acknowledged for their writing and artistic talents during the Division of Juvenile Justice’s 2023 Black History Month observation.

Omar J. won the Black History Art Contest at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility (VYCF)’s. The task was to draw a postage stamp featuring a Back Health Care Pioneer. Omar chose Herbert W. Nickens, who worked diligently to bridge the painful and persistent diversity gap in medicine. 

Youth Denisho C. was motivated by Black Health Care Pioneer Dr. Charles Richard Drew. Denisho wrote the winning essay for VYCF’s 2023 Black History Month Essay Contest. Drew, known as the “Father of Blood Banking,” pioneered blood preservation techniques for blood donations.

“This man, this Black man, made history and saved thousands of lives in the past and will save thousands if not millions of lives with the knowledge he left all of us 75 years ago,” Denisho wrote.

For VCYF’s Black History Month Poetry Contest,  Kamryn’s winning composition, “Mindset,” was inspired by Dr. Benjamin Carson.

Community Service

Teenagers crowd a booth with correctional staff

Wasco staff share time, experience with Bakersfield teens

Wasco State Prison (WSP) shared what a day in the life of a correctional employee is like at the McKee Middle School Career Day in Bakersfield. Members of the WSP Recruitment Team and Investigative Services Unit Central Region K-9 Officers shared CDCR’s mission and values, and the many career opportunities CDCR has to offer.

The event included sessions with sixth- through eighth-graders. Participants included the Bakersfield Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Kern County Sheriff’s Department, Kern County Fire Department, Bureau of Land Management Federal Firefighting Section, Cox Petroleum, Golden Empire Transit, United States Army, and United States Marine Corps. The WSP Recruitment Team and members of the Central Region K-9 Unit drew large crowds of interested teens who had many questions for the team.

A large group of young men and one adult man.

SATF Lieutenant, local football team help during storms

Late last year, the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison (SATF) featured Correctional Lieutenant Manuel “Manny” Martinez for becoming the head coach of the Woodlake Tigers High School Football team. Now, Lt. Martinez and the team are doing all they can to help the residents of Woodlake.

This year, much of California has dealt with record-breaking rainstorms. These historic storms have devastated much of California and turned entire neighborhoods into lakes. Woodlake is one of those cities. As soon as there was a break in the storms, Martinez didn’t sit around – his years of leading and responding to urgent events was triggered. He spoke with the team and began helping with whatever needed to be done. If residents needed help filling sandbags to protect the water from damaging their property, Lt. Martinez and players from the team assisted. If residents needed help removing all of their furniture from their house that was damaged due to the flood, Martinez and players assisted.

Some of the players and their families lost everything.  This did not stop them from helping others within the community who were also being affected by this tragedy.

 “This has been a life-changing event for most of the people within the Woodlake community,” Lt. Martinez said. “We are a small community and we have all come together during this time of need to help everyone out.”

RJD fundraiser helps grant children’s wishes

A woman and a man hold an oversized check.
Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD) staff and incarcerated population were able to raise $23,112 through a food sale to support the Make-a-Wish Foundation. The funds will be used to support the foundation’s work to create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses Warden James S. Hill presented the donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation San Diego.


A group of incarcerated people and people in suits applaud.

CTF auto body shop gets major upgrades

The Correctional Training Facility (CTF) Education Department celebrated the reopening of the Vocational Auto Body Program with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The program was closed for about a year while the Division of Rehabilitative Programs (DRP) and the Career and Technical Education (CTE) division renovated the auto shop.

Upon completion of the 18-month program, the 27 students assigned to the Vocational Auto Body Shop will receive certifications in collision repair, paint color analysis and body repair and painting. The upgrade will help them meet those goals, with the installation of a new auto paint booth, auto body aligner, and paint mixing room.

“The men assigned to this program will now have access to the latest auto body technology,” said David Mena, Vice Principal of Vocations. “With this along with the certifications obtained, they will have the ability to acquire a job with a livable wage upon release from prison.”

In the Media

Jon Stewart interviews Gavin Newsom on California prison reform

Talk show host Jon Stewart grilled California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on his plans to reform the state’s most notorious prison into a rehabilitation center in a new interview released on Friday.

Newsom announced his plans last week to transform San Quentin State Prison into the “most innovative rehabilitation facility” in the country, drawing inspiration from countries like Norway that have low recidivism rates.

Incarcerated people become certified yoga instructors at SOL

A man and a woman do yoga
Don Favorita, left, and Vallejo yoga instructor Anna Proctor, right. Photo by Peter Merts.

Eight years into his life sentence at California State Prison Solano, Don Favorita’s friend Gordon Melvin asked him, “Would you want to practice yoga with me?”

“In prison, you don’t just take your shoes off in the middle of the day room floor,” Favorita said. But Melvin was an old biker who wasn’t worried. “Screw all those guys,” he told Favorita. “Let’s sit down, let’s practice together.”

They worked with the prison administration to bring in the Prison Yoga Project, which held a day-long retreat in 2008 and exposed about 70 incarcerated people to yoga. The project started biweekly classes that continue to this day.

Top Inside CDCR stories

Academy graduates 230 new officers

Governor’s Medal of Valor at Ironwood

CIW Warden speaks to pre-teen girls

SVSP promotes Patient Safety

OMCP grads makes history at LAC