Newsletters

DJJ News Briefs, Vol 23, September 23, 2022

DJJ News Logo
DJJ News Logo

In this issue…

  • Denita Razo named DJJ Professional of the Year
  • Gil Infante reappointed to BJH
  • Three questions with Craig Stewart
  • Three questions with Anna Conrad
  • ARC hosts DJJ staff at LA headquarters
  • Jack Mabe, DJJ assistant principal, passes away
  • CDCR wellness app just a few clicks away

Denita Razo named DJJ Professional of the Year

NCYCC Lt./Acting Captain Denita Razo is DJJ’s 2022 Professional of the Year.
NCYCC Lt./Acting Captain Denita Razo is DJJ’s 2022 Professional of the Year.

Lieutenant/Acting Captain Denita Razo of NCYCC was named DJJ’s Professional of the Year in annual Medal of Valor ceremonies conducted on September 23 in Elk Grove. It was the first in-person Medal of Valor ceremony held since 2019.  

In her nominating statement, it said, “Acting Captain Razo has gone “above and beyond in her role at the complex since 2021. Acting Capt. Razo has overseen audits and was vital in the combining of O.H. Close and N.A. Chaderjian into one facility, coordinating scheduling and training for DJJ staff to work safely at both facilities.” 

“Acting captain Razo has been a key member of the executive team in DJJs transition towards realignment and closure. She served a vital role in organizing peace officer staff transitional choices to adult institutions. She has led the Peer Support Program, and is active in providing support to staff that need help. She makes herself accessible to staff and they excel under her leadership.”

Congratulations to Acting Captain Razo for her extraordinary service in support of DJJ’s mission.  A video replay of the 37th Medal of Valor ceremonies may be viewed at this web address. https://vimeo.com/event/2431653

Amy Kelly, Director, Division of Correctional Policy Research and Internal Oversight, announces DJJ Professional of the Year at annual Medal of Valor ceremonies held September 23 in Elk Grove.
Amy Kelly, Director, Division of Correctional Policy Research and Internal Oversight, announces DJJ Professional of the Year at annual Medal of Valor ceremonies held September 23 in Elk Grove.

Gil Infante reappointed to BJH

BJH Commissioner Gilbert Infante.
BJH Commissioner Gilbert Infante.

Gilbert Infante has been reappointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to the Board of Juvenile Hearings. Gilbert has been a juvenile offender parole board representative since 2017. Prior to his reappointment Gilbert served in several positions at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Justice from 2007 and 2017, including Treatment Team Supervisor, Parole Agent, Senior Youth Correctional Counselor and Youth Correctional Counselor.

Meet DJJ math teacher Craig Stewart

Craig Stewart, a math teacher at Mary B. Perry High School at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility.
Craig Stewart, a math teacher at Mary B. Perry High School at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility, in his happy place, with trains.

This story originally ran in Inside CDCR, the employee news blog, on August 18, 2022

For nearly a quarter century, math teacher Craig Stewart has helped shape the futures of California’s incarcerated youth. He began his Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) career in 1999 as a part-time employee at Fred C. Nelles School in Whittier. Two years later, he became a full-time teacher, working at several California Youth Authority/DJJ facilities including now-closed facilities in Norwalk.

Today, he is a teacher at Mary B. Perry High School at the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility. Since August was Back to School month, DJJ is profiling a few of its teachers, who are part of the California Education Authority, DJJ’s own school district.

What are your proudest career achievements?

When I first started. there were a lot of things I didn’t expect, of course. Just the climate of when kids don’t like each other, you know, you had to kind of get used to a tornado coming through your room and then being able to pick it up and say, “Hey, where did we leave off?” Not getting emotionally caught up in what just happened. I realized that I knew I had this interesting personality where I could do that, I really could pick up the pieces and resume and get everyone back on task. I guess my redirection skills are pretty good because in my first year of teaching I got teacher of the Year Award and Employee of the Month.

Who influenced you?

I had great mentors. A vice principal when I came here to Ventura, Felicia Jones, had a Changing Lives award, given every year to any staff that had a positive effect on the students to change their lives in a direction other than what they were brought here. That was a probably one of my favorite awards I’ve ever gotten.

At Norwalk, Superintendent Cassandra Stansbury was there at that time. She was so amazing and the things I learned from her really rubbed off on me in a way that I use today. Her philosophy was simply treat these youth as if they were yours. That was her philosophy, and it was a winning philosophy. And so it was easy to adopt that with my students.

Here at Ventura., We have a lot of respect for each other. There’s a great group of teachers here that are really here for the right reasons. That’s the type of people that I love to work with. We just kind of feed off each other.

With the closure, there’s a lot of anxiety right now and we can always sit down with a coworker. We eat lunch together. My room is always open as well. It’s one of the bigger rooms, so people stop by. It’s a great place to be right now, even though we’re getting ready to close.

What’s something people don’t know about you?

It’s hard to tell from my profile picture, but I lost my leg when I was 19. I was in the military serving in the Army and I got bone cancer in my right knee and the only way to save my life was to take my leg. So I get around on my crutches or my wheelchair. I don’t really bring my wheelchair here to work. I have these amazing titanium Canadian forearm crutches that have continued to carry me through my life’s adventures for over 30 years and at the same helped me stay in shape.

But the kids see that I’m obviously a disabled person as well. There’s a lot more compassion that I get from the kids because of that. There’s been times, believe it or not, I’ve been rolling around in my chair and caught an edge, tipping over my chair. The kids have rushed over and picked me up and put me back in the chair and asked if I’m OK. There’s a real sensibility from them. They really respect where I am in my abilities, but then they realize, “Oh man, he’s the kind of guy he’s really here to help us and champion us through.”

And now I have a reputation. The kids know who I am. They know that I’m a complete advocate for them. I have to be. That’s why I’m here. Also, I have a great sportscaster voice and take great pride in using that talent for high school graduation when I announce all the graduates names in my booming voice!

What do you do on your spare time?

I’m a huge train enthusiast. I’ve taken the Amtrak Coast Starlight train at least a dozen times. In retirement, I’m looking forward to traveling in Europe and taking all the great trains they have there.

Meet DJJ reading and language instructor Anna Conrad

DJJ reading and language instructor Anna Conrad .
DJJ reading and language instructor Anna Conrad has been with DJJ since 2006.

This story first ran on Inside CDCR on September 9

Tell us about your history in education with DJJ?

I began working for the Department of Juvenile Justice in 2006. Prior to DJJ, I worked as an inner city elementary school teacher at City Impact Rescue Mission in San Francisco. That experience  prepared me for my current career. In 2006, I moved to the Central Valley, got married, and began my DJJ journey.

I started off as a substitute teacher, then became a permanent literacy Instructor. A few years later, I applied for and accepted the position of English Language Coordinator.  Although there are days when the students are extremely challenging, in an uncanny way those students are the ones who keep me motivated.  I can honestly say, “I enjoy my job.” 

What are some highlights of your career?

Since I am the Reading Language teacher, some of my students are low level readers.  The highlight of my career is witnessing the transition of English learners who cannot speak English, into students who can speak, read, and write in English. This skillset will be beneficial as they progress towards graduation and for the rest of their lives. Another special highlight is when students who have completed my class stop by my door and thank me for impacting their lives in positive manner.

What are your hobbies and outside interests?

I love to take weekend trips to the beach with my husband, visit with grandchildren, spend time with my son and daughter, go out with friends, travel, go to church, and volunteer wherever needed.  

DJJ’s Jack Mabe remembered as upbeat friend, father

This obituary ran in Inside CDCR on August 22. 2022

Jack Mabe, Assistant Principal at Johanna Boss High School, was remembered in August 3 memorial services as a dedicated friend, father and coworker. The 47-year-old Mabe passed away July 23 following a motorcycle accident.

Jack Mabe, left, was an avid tennis player.
Jack Mabe, left, was an avid tennis player.
Jack Mabe at work at O.H. Close
Jack Mabe at work at O.H. Close, where he was an assistant principal.

Mabe began his career with the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) as a teacher at N.A. Chaderjian High School in 2015. He was promoted to Assistant Principal at Johanna Boss High School in March 2017.
According to friends and coworkers, he always had a smile on his face and was ready to do anything asked of him.

“Jack Mabe loved his Johanna Boss High School family and was a strong advocate for the education program,” according to a statement issued by DJJ Director Heather Bowlds. “Our sincere condolences go out to all who knew and cared for Jack. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.”

A memorial service was held August 3 in Rocklin, attended by hundreds of friends, family members and colleagues.

He was eulogized as a dedicated family man, beloved in a large blended family; an ardent tennis player and team captain at the Antelope Valley Tennis Association; a lover of Harley Davidson motorcycles and a fervent Raiders Nation member.

“Jack was an ‘of the people, for the people, by the people’ type of guy. He was just a normal guy performing an extremely difficult job.”

DJJ teacher Zachary Krula

At work, he was viewed as a person who brought a positive “can do” spirit to DJJ.

“Jack was an ‘of the people, for the people, by the people’ type of guy,” said DJJ teacher Zachary Krula. “He was just a normal guy performing an extremely difficult job. There was no job too big or too small that Jack would not willingly do. Jack would serve as an administrator at a meeting, then clean floors, or empty trash. He was willing to do the jobs nobody else wanted to do. He did them with a smile on his face.”

Krula described Mabe’s upbeat personality and sense of humor as a balm in the serious world of educating and rehabilitating youth. “I feel lucky simply to have gotten the opportunity to know Jack and to work with him.”

Recently, Mabe organized high school graduation ceremonies for N.A. Chaderjian and Johanna Boss High School graduates, a successful event that allowed his natural enthusiasm to shine.

ARC hosts DJJ staff at LA Headquarters

By PA Tracee Agee

Parole Agent II and Re-Entry Coordinator Erika Mutchler (left), Anti Recidivism Coalition Executive Director Sam Lewis (center) and Parole Agent I Tracee Agee (right).
Parole Agent II and Re-Entry Coordinator Erika Mutchler (left), Anti Recidivism Coalition Executive Director Sam Lewis (center) and Parole Agent I Tracee Agee (right). DJJ staff were invited to learn firsthand how ARC operates.

Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) staff visited the Los Angeles headquarters of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) for a facility tour on August 5th.  Parole Agent II and Re-Entry Coordinator Erika Mutchler along with Parole Agent I Tracee Agee were invited to learn firsthand how this organization, dedicated to hands-on rehabilitative services, operates. The tour was provided by ARC Executive Director Sam Lewis.

The Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) is headquartered in Los Angeles and Sacramento and works to end mass incarceration in California while providing treatment oriented housing for juvenile and adult parolees. To ensure our communities are safe, healthy and whole, ARC empowers formerly and currently incarcerated people to thrive by providing a support network, comprehensive re-entry services and opportunities to advocate for policy change. Through their grassroots policy advocacy, they are dedicated to transforming the criminal justice system so that it is more just and equitable for all people.

At the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility, DJJ has a dedicated ARC staff member, Life Coach, Tommy Lewis, who facilitates weekly workshops and mentoring sessions regarding emotional intelligence and reentry goal-setting. Additionally, ARC provides its services at all DJJ facilities and the Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp.  

The CDCR Wellness App is just a few clicks away

CDCR has launched the new CDCR Wellness app for all CDCR, CCHCS and DJJ employees, immediate family members and retirees. The Wellness app provides 24/7 confidential and anonymous instant access to correctional wellness tools and resources and can be downloaded on to a personal or state issued cell phone.

CDCR Wellness App.
CDCR Wellness App


iPhone, iPad, Go to the Apple App store or https://apps.apple.com/us/app/cdcr-wellness/id1540831322