Frequently Asked Questions: The CA Model

A man in a cap and gown shakes the hand of a man in a suit at a graduation

The California Model draws on international best practices to change culture within CDCR and CCHCS. The Department is committed to improving working and living conditions for all who live in, work in, and visit state prisons, as well as improving the working environment for all employees regardless of their location.

The California Model is in line with CDCR’s mission to enhance public safety and promote the successful reintegration of the people in our care back to their communities.

CDCR has partnered with the Amend program at the University of California, San Francisco, and has sent people in leadership positions to Norway to learn how their approach to normalcy in corrections and rehabilitation is lowering recidivism and expanding employee wellness.

While Norway and California are very different, the core of their model is the same as ours: When we treat one another with respect, our environment will change for the better.


The CA Model is a paradigm shift that draws on international best practices to change culture within the state’s prisons. The CA Model aims to develop a human-centered culture of healing, positive staff-inmate communication, and improved living and working conditions. In cohesion, these principles will improve public safety, rehabilitation and reentry, as well as outcomes.

We are excited to be embarking on this important endeavor to transform San Quentin State Prison into San Quentin Rehabilitation Center. An Advisory Council composed by many leaders and professionals in various fields will be tasked with developing a plan with recommendations for the reimagining of San Quentin. The plan will be created with the goal of scaling similar efforts to other institutions, and truly create the “California Model.”

(Learn more about the San Quentin transformation.)

Utilizing principles that are known to be successful in other countries and states, including dynamic security, normalization, peer support and trauma informed care, the Department will scale these evidence-based principles to guide expectations for how our staff and population interact to create a healthier work environment. These principles have been shown in other states and nations to affect short-term health and wellbeing among incarcerated people and prison staff, and to reduce recidivism.

In addition to the announcement for the reimagining of San Quentin, the Department has incrementally and strategically incorporated some initial principles at various facilities within the following prisons: Valley State Prison, Salinas Valley State Prison, Central California Women’s Facility, and California Medical Facility. Our goal is to use some of the best practices learned from Norway and other prison systems to identify elements and challenges. This will allow the Department to scale some of these practices system-wide in the future.

Some examples include:

  • Valley State Prison: Correctional staff are working with the Youth Offender Program participants, who have received intensive training in dynamic security (security based on interpersonal communication and respect) and the importance of creating a more normalized living. Additionally, correctional and health care staff are working with incarcerated people and community leaders to develop an in-prison reentry facility in which community organizations provide services to people in the last 1-2 years of their sentence to ready them for release.
  • Salinas Valley State Prison: Correctional staff have developed and are utilizing a “Resource Team” approach, originally developed in Norway, and piloted in various prison throughout Oregon and Washington. The Resource Team is currently working in the Psychiatric Inpatient Program (PIP) at the prison, where results so far have been positive, including experiencing a decrease in violence and assaults on staff and improved far more occupational health and professional pride.
  • Central California Women’s Facility: Correctional staff are utilizing the principle of dynamic security to develop a more professional rapport with the population in order to better understand their needs, prevent and reduce grievances, and improve engagement in programming. The goal is for CCWF to ultimately develop an integrated approach across the prison that greatly improves the interactions between staff and incarcerated people and helps people leave prison with more tools to lead a successful life in the community than they had when they arrived in prison.
  • California Medical Facility: The prison hospice program approach developed at CMF enables healthcare and correctional staff, as well as incarcerated people in their care, to work as a team as they care for those at the end of life. We are currently developing a three-part training initiative (culture, medial knowledge, and peer caregiver training) that we will bring to other prisons that provide care to people with serious illness.

The Department is a vast complex system with staff who have the capacity to help people change their lives. We are reorienting the approach of our staff to understand that the loss of liberty is the punishment our population has been given by the courts. Our primary focus is to provide an environment conducive for rehabilitation so that our population can become better neighbors – both in prison and when they return to our communities.

Our staff significantly impact the lives of all the people who live in a correctional system. Staff do their job logistically where over 96,000 incarcerated people must live, work, and rehabilitate themselves to reenter society while protecting public safety. Our parole division does the same for over 43,000 parolees currently in our communities.