COVID-19 Response Efforts

Board of Parole Hearings/Parole suitability hearings

The Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) is holding parole suitability hearings via video and telephone conference through June 22, 2020.

Governor Newsom’s March 24 executive order ceased in-person parole hearings for 60 days, and granted the Secretary the authority to extend the prohibition by 30 days in order to protect the health and welfare of incarcerated people, board officers, legal counsel, and victims’ representatives. All affected parole hearing participants are being notified.

BPH began holding scheduled hearings through video conference only beginning April 13, consistent with Governor Gavin Newsom’s March 24 Executive Order.

The Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) held 417 parole suitability hearings by video and telephone conference between April 1 and May 15.

  • 140 resulted in grants (34 percent)
  • 277 resulted in denials (66 percent)
  • 13 percent of scheduled hearings were waived by inmates
  • For all of 2019, BPH’s at-hearing grant rate was 34 percent
  • For all of 2019, 9 percent of scheduled hearings were waived by inmates
  • The BPH parole grant rate for all hearings held in 2019 was 34 percent.

Board of Juvenile Hearings proceedings will take place as scheduled via video conference only. Go to the Board website for more information.

California Prison Industry Authority production

CALPIA is producing two types of hand sanitizer: Cleanse, which contains alcohol, and Cleanse – AF (Alcohol Free) which contains the active ingredient Benzalkonium Chloride. The alcohol-based hand sanitizer will be used in the sanitizer dispenser stations being directed into housing units, dining halls, work change areas, and other areas where sinks and soap are not immediately available. The non-alcohol based product is being produced for future needs.

The hand sanitizer is being made available to CDCR and CCHCS facilities and locations.  If CALPIA’s inventory exceeds the needs of those two departments, CALPIA will make the product available to other state agencies.

CALPIA worked with the California Department of Public Health and within two weeks was able to acquire the necessary licensing for relabeling, repackaging, and mixing. 

The hand sanitizer is being produced at CALPIA’s Chemical Enterprise located at the California State Prison, Los Angeles County.

CALPIA is producing reusable cloth barrier masks to meet some of the supply needs of staff and inmates. The masks are being produced at CALPIA’s Fabric enterprises at the California Institution for Women, Mule Creek State Prison, California Men’s Colony, Sierra Conservation Center, Correctional Training Facility, California Correctional Institution, and Centinela State Prison. CALPIA is now making 20,000 masks a day which are being distributed to all institutions for both staff and inmate use.

On April 7, CALPIA suspended non-critical operations to support the effort to address COVID-19. Critical operations included the Healthcare Facilities Maintenance program, which increased work hours and days to seven days a week in order to provide increased frequency of cleaning and sanitation, as well as Laundry services, which increased to seven days a week. Other critical operations included food and beverage packaging and the production of hand sanitizer at California State Prison, Los Angeles County.

Cloth face covering

Staff and the incarcerated population are required to wear a facial barrier once a supply of five CALPIA reusable cloth barrier masks are distributed to each member of the incarcerated population and three per correctional staff member has been delivered to the institution. Staff working or performing duties on institutional grounds shall wear a facial barrier at a minimum. In addition, maintaining physical distancing requirements when moving about the institution for routine tasks is still recommended. These masks are not intended for direct patient care scenarios.

Once masks are delivered at their institution, the incarcerated population will be required to wear the CALPIA masks during the following activities:

  • Any situation that requires movement outside of cell or while in a dorm setting.
  • During interactions with other members of the incarcerated population such as yard time and canteen services.
  • Movement to/from health care appointments.
  • Movement to/from medication administration areas.

The incarcerated population are permitted to keep their CALPIA masks upon their scheduled release.

Conservation Camp Program

Firefighter training is continuing at the parent institutions and at the camps. Additional inmate firefighters will be trained and prepared to aid CAL FIRE and the Los Angeles County Fire Department in fighting wildfires and performing daily community service grade projects. Continuing this training ensures that a loaded pipeline of prepared inmates can be deployed to assist CAL FIRE when needed to respond to an emergency or wildfire.

CDCR has limited transfers of inmates into the Conservation Camp Program. Prior to being transferred, inmates who have finished their training are isolated from the general population for a period of 14 days and screened for COVID-19. Inter-camp transfers and visitation remain canceled until further notice. Inmates at the camps are screened daily for symptoms related to COVID-19.

Conservation Camps are still operating and housing inmates. Inmates continue to complete community service projects when not fighting fires; which include, clearing brush and fallen trees, maintaining parks, and reforestation. Currently, individual projects are being completed on a case-by-case basis after review and approval by the camp captain to ensure health and safety guidance to address COVID-19 can be followed.

As part of CDCR’s overall effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 at its facilities, including conservation camps, the department is actively educating staff and the incarcerated population on steps they can take to protect themselves from COVID-19, which include proper hand washing and physical distancing.

Construction projects

On March 20, 2020, CDCR suspended large-scale construction projects located within the secure perimeter of CDCR facilities. Limited construction activities are continuing as necessary to make work areas safe and protect construction areas from deterioration during the suspension. While the construction industry overall has been identified as an essential business/service under Governor Newsom’s Executive Order , the interest of

CDCR as a construction owner is unique. Construction occurring at facilities under CDCR jurisdiction impacts the health and safety of thousands of employees and persons incarcerated in youth and adult institutions. The decision to suspend large-scale construction projects was consistent with earlier preventive actions, such as the cancellation of visiting and volunteer entries statewide, and seeks to reduce and minimize the number of non-CDCR employees that enter CDCR institutions on a daily basis. These decisions are not made lightly, and are taken with the safety of all who work in, live in, and visit our facilities in mind.

Dental Services

The California Dental Association recommends that all non-urgent dental care be suspended. For the description of the American Dental Association’s definition for urgent/emergency services, visit their resource here.

Effective immediately and until further notice, dental treatment shall be limited to Dental Priority Classification (DPC) 1 conditions (urgent care). For more information on what qualifies as urgent care, view HCDOM

In order to reduce risks to patients and staff, all non-urgent offsite specialty appointments will be re-scheduled to a later time. Telemedicine appointments will continue at this time.

Division of Adult Parole Operations

The Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) has adjusted supervision protocols in line with the Governor’s four-stage “Resilience Roadmap” to safely modify California’s stay-at-home order. DAPO continues to follow restrictions in place by local public health departments and justice system partners, including jails, courts and local law enforcement. Parole Agents continue to follow physical distancing guidelines, including but not limited to minimizing in-person parole office reporting.

  • Parolees are provided temporary reporting instructions upon release from prison, along with tips and best practices regarding hand washing, disinfecting, and physical distancing. They must call their assigned Parole Office within the first business day following release to speak with their Parole Agent or the Officer of the Day for instructions and/or assistance. Parolees who must register per sex offender laws, are homeless, or do not have access to a telephone must report to the parole office in-person.
  • DAPO continues to follow current precautions, including screenings, before entering a parole office, and limiting office visits to initial/comprehensive interviews, critical needs, statutory requirements/duties and emergencies. Telephonic contact or other forms of technology are being utilized for those who are sick or considered high-risk (i.e. 65 years and older, chronic health conditions).
  • As California is now in Stage 2 (lower-risk workplaces), home visits have resumed, but in a modified form. Parole Agents will make contact at the front door, practicing physical distancing. Telephonic contact or other technology will be utilized when necessary.  Routine anti-narcotic testing is currently suspended, but DAPO maintains the authority to conduct such testing when necessary to maintain public safety.

Any questions parolees may have related to COVID-19 prevention efforts should be directed to their Parole Agent. Learn more here.

Division of Juvenile Justice

CDCR’s Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) began virtual visitation at all four of its youth facilities effective April 11. Video visiting appointments are requested by approved visitors for DJJ youth via a dedicated email address and scheduled in 30-minute blocks during regular weekend visitation hours. The visitation takes place on laptop computers placed on tables in standard visiting areas to give youth privacy and assure social distancing is taking place. Appointment requests are screened by staff to make sure that only approved visitors are utilizing the service. A successful trial of the program was implemented on March 27 at Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp in Amador County. A press release announcing the launch of the new program is available here.

Directions are posted around the DJJ facilities so that youth can share the information with their support system.

Intake will resume for youth at the Division of Juvenile Justice May 26. New cohorts will be accepted in groups of 10 and will remain sequestered for 14 days, while continuing to be assessed for criminological needs and treatment plans and placed in appropriate housing units. All incoming youth will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival and again at day 12 before joining the population.

Effective March 18, all volunteer programs are suspended.  When entering, all those entering any facility are given the same health screenings in place at other state institutions, including temperature checks.

The California Education Authority is continuing high school classes for youth in DJJ. As of April 7, all education provided are being provided via distance learning.

We also encourage letter writing as a way to stay in touch and are increasing the number of postage stamps available to youth.

On April 14, Governor Newsom signed an Executive Order addressing the release and reentry process at DJJ so that youth may be discharged safely and quickly. The executive order calls for all discharge and reentry hearings to be held via videoconference to minimize the youth and other participants’ exposure to COVID-19. Additionally, notification given to county probation departments, the court in the county of commitment, and the youth’s legal counsel will be shortened from 60 days to 30 days before the Board of Juvenile Hearings (BJH) discharge consideration hearing.

The order also allows for reentry consideration hearings—normally held in the county court—to take place at the DJJ facility where the youth is housed. This new timeframe does not impact victim notification, as they already receive a 30-day notice. Victims and victim representatives will be able to participate in the videoconference hearings.

Go to the BJH website for more information:

For the latest on steps DJJ is taking to protect youth from COVID-19, visit the DJJ webpage here.

Expedited Release

On March 31, CDCR announced its plan to further protect staff and inmates from the spread of COVID-19 in state prisons.

As of April 13, CDCR has expedited the release of approximately 3,500 eligible inmates who were due to be released within 60 days or less and were not currently serving time for a violent crime as defined by law, domestic violence, or a person required to register under Penal Code 290. There are currently no future scheduled expedited releases, all those being released after April 13 have served their full sentenced as defined by the law and cannot be held by CDCR.

The releases increased capacity and space to help with inmate movement, physical distancing, and quarantine and isolation efforts for positive COVID-19 cases.

For frequently asked questions on this plan, visit our FAQ page here.

Health care services

The health and safety of our population is of critical importance to CDCR and CCHCS. While our agency is working together to prepare for and respond to COVID-19, we will continue to provide urgent health care services. To reduce risks to both patients and staff. Additionally, some specialty and routine care has been delayed as a result of both internal redirections and external closures. All canceled appointments will be rescheduled as soon as safely possible. Health care staff will continue to see and treat patients through the 7362 process.

CCHCS has issued COVID-19: Interim Guidance for Health Care and Public Health Providers. This document provides clinical guidelines related to testing, quarantine and isolation housing, and treatment to public health and health care providers in response to COVID-19 cases in the California prison system.

CDCR and CCHCS have launched an internal patient registry to assist institutions in monitoring patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. The COVID-19 Registry also tracks all individuals by risk.  The registry is updated twice daily and draws from multiple data sources, including the electronic health record system, claims data, and the Strategic Offender Management System to compile risk factor data.  This registry also includes release date information for each individual, in the event that individuals are to be considered for early release during the pandemic. This tool is not publically available as it contains personal health care information protected by medical privacy laws.

Hiring and academies

CDCR and CCHCS are actively hiring for vacant positions. Guidance has been provided to staff on how to continue the hiring process by conducting remote interviews through web-based applications and phone calls, as well as in-person only when physical distancing can be maintained.

Human Resources exams staff are working to transition examinations to self-certification for as many exams as possible. For more information, visit or

Beginning in May, in-person peace officer testing components will resume in small groups, with the exception of the physical fitness test. Online alternatives are offered for the written exam and oral psychological screening interviews. The Background Investigation Unit will continue to process candidates.

To safely accommodate peace officer candidates while continuing to address California’s public safety needs during the COVID-19 crisis, CDCR’s Psychological Screening Program is offering applicants the option to complete their psychological screening examination from the comfort of their homes by participating in a telehealth video interview using a HIPAA-compliant platform. This is not mandatory, and all candidates will continue to have the option of waiting to be scheduled for an in-person interview. All necessary details and instructions will be made available to candidates prior to being scheduled.

The Basic Correctional Officer Academy (BCOA) has resumed training as of May 5, 2020, with precautions taken to follow physical distancing guidelines. All candidates who were scheduled for the March academy have been notified of the new start date. The next BCOA following the May academy will be July 21, 2020.

CDCR is continuing to hire during this pandemic; visit for more information on peace officer opportunities.

Modified Community Correctional Facilities and Community Reentry Programs

CDCR’s in-state contract facilities are conducting verbal screenings of staff and participants who enter the facilities. Those attempting to enter one of these facilities are required to verbally respond if they currently have symptoms of a respiratory illness.

Visiting has also been halted at these facilities until further notice.   

CDCR is committed to continuing education programs and limiting the impact our COVID-19 response has on positive rehabilitative programming for our Community Reentry Programs. Rehabilitative programs at the reentry facilities will continue with modifications made to class sizes to encourage social distancing, with some potential program closures. 

At this time, participants are generally restricted from leaving the facilities outside of mandated legal reasons, urgent medical needs, if they are employed in the community, or for critical reentry services related to those within 30-45 days of release.

Participants age 65 or older are only eligible for passes to go out in the community for emergency situations only.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

CDCR and CCHCS have been actively monitoring and assessing institutions to ensure staff have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment to immediately address any potential COVID-19 exposures, and to protect staff and incarcerated people. The workgroup will continue to collaborate and maintain open lines of communication with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to identify any deficiencies and ensure adequate supplies are available at each institution on an ongoing basis.

Physical Distancing

As of April 29, 2020, 1,928 inmates have been transferred out of lower level dorms and were transferred to alternate institutions that had cell vacancies in an effort to increase physical distancing.

The incarcerated population and staff have received information about physical distancing, and strategies where possible; including limiting groups to no more than 10, assigning bunks to provide more space between individuals, rearranging scheduled movements to minimize mixing of people from different housing areas, encouraging physical distancing during yard time, and adjusting dining schedules where possible to allow for for smaller groups and additional cleaning and disinfecting of dining halls.

In addition to providing facial barriers and hand sanitizer to both staff and the incarcerated population, the following measures have been implemented to increase physical distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Educational materials have been continuously produced based on new guidance and direction from public health and health care experts through the inmate advisory councils, public announcement systems, via posters and flyers placed throughout the prisons, verbal directives from custody staff, and video programming broadcast to TVs throughout the prisons
  • In various areas where inmates must wait in lines—such as canteen lines and medication lines—the prisons have marked six-foot intervals on the ground to help inmates remember to continuously distance themselves from others.
  • Limiting the number of inmates in the dayrooms to ensure there is sufficient space for physical distancing.
  • Dining-hall schedules have been modified to limit the number of inmates in the dining hall to allow for better physical distancing
  • Throughout the day, announcements are made over public-announcement systems in some dorm locations reminding inmates to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Rehabilitative Programs, Religious Services & Education

Non-CDCR/CCHCS/CALPIA staff will not be permitted to enter state prison until further notice. This includes people who enter state prison as volunteers, or to facilitate rehabilitative programs. Paid union representatives, and Inmate Ward Labor (IWL) staff will be permitted. CalVet representatives and contractors who work with institution staff to conduct interviews and provide forensic evaluations for incarcerated veterans to receive federal disability benefits for themselves and their families pursuant to Senate Bill 776 will also be permitted.

No rehabilitative programs, group events, or in-person educational classes will take place until further notice. At this time, all tours and events have been postponed, and no new tours are being scheduled.

The Office of Correctional Education (OCE) is working with institution principals, library staff, and teachers to provide in-cell assignments where possible in order for students to continue their studies, legal library access and educational credit-earning opportunities.

Under the direction of the Warden, school administrators and teachers coordinate with institutional warehouses to provide educational equipment, supplies and materials to students. While hardcover books are normally only permitted in classrooms, a temporary exception has been made for students to access educational materials for college, Career Technical Education, Adult Basic Education, and English Language Development courses in their housing units. This exception is at the discretion of the Warden, and may vary based on security concerns.

OCE partners with the California Community College Chancellors Office to provide face-to-face college at adult prisons. Institutions are continuing to support college classes as much as feasible so students have the opportunity to finish the semester. College coordinators and teachers are assisting with distributing materials and proctoring final exams. The goal of OCE and CDCR is to continue to support college classes as our response to COVID-19 evolves.

As usual, milestones will be awarded at the completion of a course and after successfully passing a final assessment.

During modified programming, legal library services will be available via the “paging” system, in which forms, copies, etc. are requested by inmates with Priority Legal User status and delivered to housing units via institutional mail. Recreational reading books are available for checkout using institutional mail.

For those in our incarcerated population who need supplementary academic support, CDCR has encouraged Disability Placement Program, Developmental Disability Program, and Every Student Succeeds Act staff to coordinate with the institution instructor to provide additional assistance to enrolled students where possible.

Standardized testing has stopped until further notice, although we are encouraging education staff to continue to engage their students as much as possible to stay focused on their rehabilitation and positive programming during this time.

CDCR recognizes the importance of religion in the daily life and spiritual growth of incarcerated people. Religious services will be provided as in-cell services as an alternative. Chaplains will conduct individual religious counseling as appropriate while maintaining social distancing, and CDCR is working to provide televised religious services to the population.

The Division of Rehabilitative Programs (DRP) has developed Frequently Asked Questions regarding the California Reentry and Enrichment (CARE) grants. The purpose of the CARE grant program is to provide grants to eligible nonprofit organizations currently offering insight-oriented restorative justice, transformative, and healing programs in an adult correctional institution setting. The timeline of Requests for Applications will remain as-is, with applications due by 5 p.m. Friday, May 8. The grant period will begin Sept. 1, 2020, and end April 30, 2022. While at this time there are no date changes, programming status is subject to change due to COVID-19 measures.

Payments for Innovative Programming Grant (IGP) grantees will be distributed as scheduled. For information, email DRP continues to coordinate with program providers to develop alternative programming models.

Sanitation & Hand Hygiene

All CDCR institutions have been instructed to conduct additional deep-cleaning efforts in high-traffic, high-volume areas, including visiting and health care facilities. Those in the incarcerated population identified as assisting with cleaning areas of the institution have received direct instruction on proper cleaning and disinfecting procedures in order to eliminate coronavirus.

Communal areas such as dayrooms, showers, restrooms and offices are cleaned at a minimum of once every three hours and more if needed. Disinfecting frequency has been increased, including regular disinfecting of touch points (telephones, door knobs, desk areas, etc.). All cleaning practices will allow for physical distancing of staff and porters.

On March 29, CDCR institutions began placing hand sanitizer dispensing stations along with the new production of California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) alcohol-based hand sanitizer recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help eliminate coronavirus. The dispensers have been placed inside institution dining halls, work change areas, housing units, and where sinks/soap are not immediately available.

Additionally, staff have been granted permission to carry up to two ounces of personal-use hand sanitizer. The incarcerated population is being provided extra soap when requested and hospital-grade disinfectant that meets CDC guidance for COVID-19.

In an effort to support the Agency, various community partners have generously offered donations of supplies for staff and inmates. CDCR has offered guidance to the field regarding accepting offers of goods at no cost, namely that donations must be processed in accordance with the State Contracting Manual, Volume 2.

Community members who would like to make a donation should email For donations to specific institutions, contact the Public Information Officer at that institution, who will relay the offer to the local Procurement Office. In accepting a donation, staff must:

  • Execute a zero-dollar purchase order to document that the items were accepted at no cost or future obligation
  • Complete and provide an approved CDCR Form 922 (Authorization to Accept Gifts/Donations) to the assigned Property Controller
  • Tag and track assets in SAP (System Applications and Products in Data Processing) as outlined in the CDCR Property Handbook

Staff screening

All staff and visitors entering CDCR correctional institutions are undergoing a touchless temperature screening prior to entering the facility. This applies to CDCR state prisons and community correctional facilities.

CDCR and CCHCS have also implemented mandatory verbal screening for every person entering any work location, in line with screenings in place at prisons since March 14.

Those attempting to enter a state prison or office building at any time are required to verbally respond if they currently have new or worsening symptoms of a respiratory illness or fever. If the individual’s response is that they are experiencing symptoms, they will be restricted from entering the site that day.


CDCR and CCHCS have a testing strategy that is consistent with guidance provided by federal and state public health experts. The strategy remains flexible as we continuously reassess the overall dynamic of this virus and respond accordingly to the needs of each unique institution.

CDCR’s overall testing rate per 1,000 people is more than twice the state and national averages. To view data about statewide testing efforts, view the population case tracker.

Testing is offered in the following circumstances, with the top priority always being symptomatic patients:

  • Symptomatic patients
  • Outbreak investigations
  • Essential transfers between institutions
  • Arrival at Reception Center from county jail
  • Transfers out of Reception Centers and restricted housing
  • Surveillance testing

Consistent with guidance from state and local public health officials, CDCR has begun surveillance testing of incarcerated individuals at all adult institutions. Surveillance testing is used to detect outbreaks in an early phase, even before the development of symptoms. Early detection and rapid outbreak response can limit the spread of infection and prevent morbidity and mortality. Additionally, with sufficient numbers of appropriately selected patients testing negative, an institution can demonstrate with confidence the absence of an outbreak.

This voluntary testing will be performed across multiple facilities at each institution each month. Priority will be given to asymptomatic individuals who have been identified as vulnerable or high-risk for complications of COVID-19. Such testing will give CDCR and CCHCS a baseline of cases as a preventive measure and for data-gathering purposes, as we work toward safely resuming operations.

We continue to look into the expansion of testing throughout the state while taking into consideration local county input as well as statewide mitigation and response strategies.

Decisions for large-volume testing at an institution are made in coordination with the local county public health department, and greatly depend on their capabilities and priorities for testing.

Currently, the turnaround time for COVID-19 test results is approximately 48-72 hours. CDCR and CCHCS are actively working with state public health partners and other external stakeholders to produce faster testing results. This will greatly contribute to our ability to make rapidly informed decisions regarding housing, staffing, and treatment to protect all those who live and work in our state prisons.

For more information about testing, view the COVID-19: Interim Guidance for Health Care and Public Health Providers.

Transportation/Receiving and Release protocols

On March 24, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order directing CDCR to suspend intake into state correctional facilities for 30 days. All persons convicted of felonies are being received, detained, or housed in a jail or other facility currently detaining or housing them for that period. The order allows Secretary Diaz to grant one or more 30-day extensions if suspension continues to be necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of inmates and juveniles in CDCR’s custody and staff who work in the facilities.

On April 24, Secretary Diaz suspended county jail intake until May 25.

In line with California’s phased approach to resuming normal operations, CDCR began transferring incarcerated people from Reception Centers to other institutions the week of May 18, 2020, with the exception of the Reception Center at California Institution for Men (CIM). Some inmates who have been awaiting transfer out of restricted housing units will be moved, as well.

Beginning the week of May 25, CDCR will resume intake from county jails in a very limited, controlled manner to the Reception Centers at North Kern State Prison (NKSP) and Wasco State Prison (WSP) only.

  • Through June 19, CDCR will only accept intake from Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Fresno counties.
  • NKSP and WSP will accept a limited number each week, with arrivals scheduled in a manner that allows for limited contact and increased physical distancing during processing.
  • All arriving inmates will be quarantined for 14 days, and will be offered testing for COVID-19 immediately upon arrival.
  • Those who test positive will be isolated and treated according to CDCR/CCHCS treatment guidelines
  • The rate of intake and from which counties will continuously be monitored and evaluated as we move toward safely resuming normal operations.

Additionally, as CDCR prepares to end its contract for the Golden State Modified Community Correctional Facility in McFarland, we will begin to transport people housed there back to CDCR-run facilities, beginning the week of May 19, 2020. The contract ends May 30.

All incarcerated people endorsed for transfer will be tested for COVID-19 before transportation; those who test positive will not be transferred. Transfers will take place under the guidance of health care experts, using appropriate physical distancing and personal protective equipment protocols. Everyone will wear a cloth barrier mask during transport. Nobody will be transferred to institutions closed to intake due to active COVID-19 cases.

CDCR has suspended transfers of inmates into the Male Community Reentry Program (MCRP), the Custody to Community Transitional Reentry Program (CCTRP), and the Alternative Custody Program (ACP) until further notice. CDCR has taken this step to limit potential exposure of staff to COVID-19 during inmate transfers to the community. Additionally, as part of this program, incarcerated persons remain under the jurisdiction and responsibility of CDCR, to include providing any required medical attention. Releasing incarcerated persons to these programs could potentially expose them to COVID-19 in the community, which would require their transfer back to an institution for medical care for non-emergent health care needs, increasing risk for potential exposure within our institutions.

Moves to Department of State Hospital beds at Atascadero State Hospital, Coalinga State Hospital, and Patton State Hospital are allowed only for mentally disordered offender (MDO) referrals.

All Interstate Compact Agreement transfers of out-of-state parolees and inmates to California are suspended until further notice.

To mitigate workload when non-essential movement resumes, this cancellation of all non-essential inmate movement impacts movement only; classification committees and review processes will move ahead as normal.

California statute permits the Secretary to authorize temporary community leave for inmates from prison. To reduce risks of COVID-19 to all who work and live in the state prison system and our surrounding communities, there will be no temporary community leave approvals at this time. We will work to make communications available to individuals in these situations.

CDCR has communicated with county sheriffs about changes to the transfer of state prison inmates to county jails for mandated court hearings. Inmates leaving CDCR custody to be housed in a county jail for purposes of attending a court hearing will not be accepted back until intake is resumed. For those inmates held in county jail unable to return to CDCR custody, the Department will reimburse the supervising agency after five days pursuant to Penal Code 4016.5. Inmates being transported for a same-day court appearance will be allowed to return to the CDCR institution but will be provided a mask and will be screened by health care staff upon return to the institution.The incarcerated population are permitted to keep their allotment of reusable cloth barrier masks produced by CALPIA upon their release after serving their full sentenced as defined by the law, and are encouraged to wear the mask while in the community.

Visiting and Communication

As part of CDCR’s COVID-19 prevention efforts, normal visiting at adult and juvenile facilities is canceled statewide until further notice based on California Department of Public Health guidance for mass gatherings. This includes overnight family visits and Division of Juvenile Justice visiting.

Visiting is temporarily suspended at the Community Prisoner Mother Program (CPMP) in line with recommendations from public health officials and the cessation of visiting at CDCR locations statewide. This includes scheduled off-site visits for children residing at CPMP with their mothers. Family members may continue to drop approved items such as diapers, wipes, baby food and baby snacks (for children under one), during normal visiting hours even during closure. CPMP staff are diligently working to ensure the participants’ needs are met and supplies are readily available with a surplus where needed. They are working closely with community healthcare providers and medical staff at nearby California Institution for Women to keep all required appointments for mothers and children. 

In recognition of the need for incarcerated people to have contact with their loved ones, the Division of Adult Institutions has expanded phone access for certain privilege groups. Access will be via current inmate phone equipment, with extra precautions taken to clean phones and allow physical distancing to limit possible exposure and transmittal of illness. Inmates on C Status (lost privileges due to disciplinary reasons) will remain on phone restrictions until C Status until that status has been completed or removed.

The following populations are allowed to make calls above their privilege group until further notice:

  • Inmates in Administrative Segregation for non-disciplinary reasons, designated Privilege Group B, are allowed one phone call per week (previously one per month; Privilege Group A are normally allowed one call per week)
  • All other inmates in restricted housing are allowed to make one phone call once every two weeks (previously no phone calls permitted)
  • Reception Center inmates will be provided one phone call per week (previously one call within first seven days and one per month after)
  • Inmates in Psychiatric Inpatient Program settings will be allowed one call per week unless they are prohibited by the Interdisciplinary Treatment Team (with documented clinical justification).

CDCR has partnered with inmate telephone network provider GTL to offer the adult incarcerated population two days of free phone calls each week through the end of May. There is no limit on the number of calls; however, each institution may limit time to accommodate need.

Incarcerated individuals have averaged 95,000 calls per day since visiting was suspended in March, an increase of 20,000 calls per day, or 27 percent, from pre-pandemic numbers. Free-calling days average 145,000 calls per day, an increase of 93 percent.

The following days are designated for free calling:

  • Week 1: May 6 and 7
  • Week 2: May 10 (Mother’s Day) and 14
  • Week 3: May 20 and 21
  • Week 4: May 27 and 28

CDCR’s electronic messaging provider for the incarcerated population, JPay, is providing reduced-priced emails to those incarcerated at the pilot institutions and free emails for those inmates who cannot afford it. The five pilot sites that currently have the technology include: High Desert State Prison, Kern Valley State Prison, California Institution for Women, Central California Women’s Facility, and Substance Abuse Treatment Facility. At some of these institutions, only certain yards currently have this technology. Details will be provided to the incarcerated population at the institutions.

Since the price reduction, approximately 10,000 incarcerated individuals at the five sites used this system to send and receive 1.5 million messages. This represents a 37 percent increase in messaging when compared to the month of March. The price reduction will continue through the duration of the pandemic.

JPay has also extended inbound email print services to all institutions at a reduced rate. This service enables incarcerated people’s family and friends to use the JPay app to send e-correspondence, which mailroom staff then print and deliver with regular mail. Family and friends purchase stamps for this service. While this will not eliminate physical mail, this process reduces COVID-19 transmission risk. This service is also a cost-effective way for incarcerated people to maintain contact with family and friends, which is especially important while visiting is closed.

Since this program began April 10 through the end of April, more than 32,000 messages have been received. In addition to the messages, incarcerated individuals received over 35,000 photos and e-cards.  This service is available at adult prisons and juvenile facilities, and will continue into 2022.

Effective May 4, 2020, the Enterprise Inmate Communication (EIC) program currently piloted at Central California Women’s Facility, California Institution for Women, High Desert State Prison (Facility C), Kern Valley State Prison (Facility C) and Substance Abuse Treatment Facility will be temporarily expanded for those inmates who possess a JPay EIC tablet. Inmates with tablets will be eligible to access, free of charge, the following offers via the kiosk system, (all content will be reviewed prior to being made available):

  • Life Skills & Betterment: Up to 30 free videos focusing on teaching and improving life skills to help cope with challenges during and after incarceration.
  • Motivational Speeches: Six free audio recordings by Andre Norman, creator of the “Academy of Hope” series
  • Entertainment: One free video game per week for four weeks.
  • Effective May 12, inmates with tablets may also have unlimited free access to the News Stand application, which delivers daily updated news, for one month.

More information about JPay services is available in English and Spanish.

The youth within the Division of Juvenile Justice already receive free phone calls and have begun using free Skype video calls for visiting.

If your family visit was canceled and you were unable to receive the supplies purchased, please reach out to the institution Public Information Officer for a refund.