In this issue:
- In person visitation returns after more than a year
- Jason Lowe appointed Chief Deputy Director
- Jim Liptrap retires as Superintendent of Pine Grove
- Ventura youth and staff collaborate for charity
- VYCF Shakes, Rattles and Rolls
Family Visits resume at DJJ
In person visitation resumed at DJJ facilities on April 10, 2021, after more than a one year suspension of visitation due to the global pandemic. Heartwarming reunions, complete with hugs, occurred in four three hour sessions held during the weekend, featuring new COVID-19 precautions. For example, all tables, chairs, doorknobs, counters, and other “high touch” surfaces are cleaned and disinfected at the beginning and end of visiting hours, and in between visitors.
Both youth and visitors will require a negative test before visitation is allowed. Visitors must provide proof of a negative test taken no longer than 72 hours prior to the visit. Visitors must show a copy of the negative test results when arriving for the visit, at least an hour before scheduled, in order to go through screening processes, which includes a verbal screening process and no touch temperature check.
Two visitors from the same household are allowed per youth, once per weekend. Visitors will be spaced apart from the youth by a minimum of six feet even if the visitors have received vaccination.
”We understand it will be difficult to maintain distance but we hope all will understand this is necessary for the safety of the youth community, staff, and the visiting families,” said DJJ Director Heather Bowlds. “We recognize the value of visitation and the importance of maintaining family and community ties. We have worked with medical and public health experts to develop an approach for reopening visiting with COVID-19 precautions.”
Visitors are provided with a procedure mask, which must be worn at all times during visiting. Masks must cover the nose and mouth except briefly when taking a drink. Outside food is prohibited, and vending machines and water fountains will not be available. Each visitor and youth will be offered a bottle of water while visiting, which must be discarded prior to exiting the visiting room.
Details for scheduling a visit via email are posted on living units. Additionally details in English and Spanish, including information on obtaining needed tests is on the DJJ internet homepage at https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/juvenile-justice/ As an alternative to in person visits, video visits will continue using Microsoft Teams. Visit this page https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/juvenile-justice/djj-video-visiting-with-microsoft-teams/ for more details. (En Espanol) https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/juvenile-justice/djj-visitas-por-video-con-microsoft-teams/.
Jason Lowe Appointed Deputy Director of DJJ
Jason J. Lowe been appointed as Deputy Director of Operations and Programs at the Division of Juvenile Justice, where he has served as Acting Deputy Director since 2020. Jason held several positions at CDCR from 2009 to 2020, including Deputy Director of Training, Enhancement and Development for the Division of Juvenile Justice in 2020, Academy Administrator and Academy Commander for the Office of Training and Professional Development from 2015 to 2020, Custody Captain for the California Health Care Facility from 2013 to 2015, Captain and Special Assistant to the Director of Administrative Services in 2013, and Correctional Counselor II and Correctional Lieutenant for the Contract Beds Unit from 2009 to 2013. Congratulations to Jason as he begins his new executive assignment.
Jim Liptrap Retires as Superintendent at Pine Grove
After a thirty year career at CDCR, the last three as Superintendent at Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp, Jim Liptrap retired in March, 2021. Jim was at PGYCC for eight years, and previously worked at Preston Youth Correctional Facility and Mule Creek State Prison, as a Youth Correctional Officer, Sergeant, Lieutenant and Program Administrator. Jim loved working with the youth firefighters, whom he regarded as heroes, as noted in this profile published last year, at the height of a historically difficult fire season. Best of luck to Jim in retirement.
Michael Gomes has been named acting Superintendent at PGYCC. Prior to this assignment, he served as Lieutenant and Sergeant at PGYCC from 2013 to 2021. Throughout his 20 years of service, he has worked in various capacities in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He served the Division of Adult Institutions as a Correctional Officer at Mule Creek State Prison from 2011 to 2013 and within the Division of Juvenile Justice and the former California Youth Authority at Preston Youth Correctional Facility as Sergeant, and Youth Correctional Counselor.
VYCF Shakes, Rattles and Rolls
By Karette Fussell, with photos by Gracie Ramirez
Superintendent Kenny Fewer’s brainchild to incorporate 1950’s style nostalgia into an incentive event came to fruition in early April. Youth at the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility were privy to VIP seating in a timeless 50s styled Diner designed by youth under the guidance of SYCC Kellin Mills in a VYCF visiting space.
In keeping with Covid-19 protocols as stipulated by CDC guidelines, youth entered the venue with masks and in groups of 15 to allow for social distancing and eating areas were sanitized between each seating.
Lt. Mark Gross was at the helm, endlessly blending fresh strawberries, peaches and vanilla ice cream into delicious milk shakes. Lt. Gross’ blended iconic American dessert creations also included Lucky Charms Milk Shakes, Cookies ‘n Cream Milk Shakes and Chocolate Milk Shakes, topped with whip cream and Marciano cherries.
Youth feasted on Chili Cheese French Fries, thought to have become popular in 1956 with the advent of Cheese Whiz! Management staff and Chaplains assisted in preparing and serving the culinary decadence and frosty deliciousness along with support from Central Kitchen staff.
Youth artists transformed the visiting venue with teal, white and red wall coverings: accented by Route 66 road signs. License plates with staff names adorned the walls throughout the venue.
Vintage 45 RPM record renderings swung from the ceiling as 50’s music played in the background. Songs included, “The Twist” by Chubby Checker, “Shake, Rattle and Roll” by Chuck Berry, “The Great Pretender” by the Platters, “Peggy Sue “by Buddy Holly and “Tootie Fruitie” by Little Richard.
A poodle skirt to pay homage to the 50s inimitable fashion decorated the wall near a colorful, life sized juke- box; diner tables were situated at a window to mimic a street view. A life- sized Pink Cadillac, gigantic ice cream cones, menus listing savory and sweet delights such as Chile Cheese Fries and Milkshakes also ornamented the surroundings, helping make the 50’s Diner experience complete and unforgettable.
45 RPM record renderings swung from the ceiling as fifties music played in the background. Songs included, “The Twist” by Chubby Checker, “Shake, Rattle and Roll” by Chuck Berry, “The Great Pretender” by the Platters, “Peggy Sue “by Buddy Holly and “Tootie Fruitie” by Little Richard.
Ventura Youth and Staff Collaborate for Charity
Over several weeks last winter, collection barrels created by youth were strategically placed inside the Ventura facility entrance where they were filled to the brim with winter clothing donated by staff. With the assistance of SYCC Ryan Pitts, Parole Agent Tracee Agee and Parole Agent Alexander Chavez, Ventura youth from the Alta Vista living unit collected and donated 75 pieces of winter attire. The needed items were sent to the Ventura County Rescue Mission, who were extremely grateful and honored to receive this donation.