Inside CDCR


Smiling woman wears dark shirt with a badge logo on it and the name V. Melendez.
Sergeant looks back at academy training

Meet Vanessa Melendez, a CDCR Sergeant committed to ensuring people interested in becoming Correctional Officers are screened in a comprehensive background investigation.


Cultural group embraces history through music and tradition

For a cultural group at California State Prison, Solano (SOL), the voices of ancestors are still heard today, preserved through music and kinship.

People walk on prison grounds.
Ironwood prison’s Cancer Walk raises $3k

Ironwood State Prison’s (ISP) third annual Cancer Walk around the outer perimeter of the institution drew 150 volunteer walkers. As in previous years, all ISP staff have been invited to participate in the walk.

Man sits on couch with laptop computer.
From prison inmate to software engineer

Today, Sumit Lal is a software engineer, thanks to a computer and coding skills program offered at San Quentin State Prison. That opportunity came in 2015 as part of CDCR’s Youthful Offender Program (YOP).


Officer stands near a flag pole.
Correctional Officer headed for job interview talks down jumper

With thoughts of a Sergeant interview running through his mind, Correctional Officer Ranato Benitez-Sanchez was heading to Ironwood State Prison when he spotted a woman sitting on an overpass, looking down at traffic. Pulling over to ask if she was OK, he soon realized she was contemplating suicide.

Photos of a scarred head, a woman and man smiling, a crushed car and a helicopter at an accident scene.
Calipatria prison employee saves coworker in wreck

In the early morning hours on Friday, Sept. 6, the lives of two individuals would be drastically changed. While driving to work on Highway 111, Rosalie Cota came upon a huge cloud of dust blowing on the roadway, obscuring her vision, forcing her to slow down to a crawl. As the dust settled, Cota was able to see a vehicle on the opposite side of the road, flipped over and resting on the passenger side. The severely injured driver happened to be a correctional sergeant.

A man in uniform stands beside another man who is wearing a lanyard.
Four employees render aid to crash victim

On Oct. 23, while driving toward California Correctional Institution (CCI), four CDCR employees came up on a car accident on Highway 202.


Woman speaks to room full of people.
Q&A with Undersecretary Kathleen Allison

Since starting in 1987, Undersecretary Kathleen Allison has seen a lot of changes and has had an impact on the department. As she looks at retirement, she hopes to continue making a difference in the community.

Two men stand in a busy building. One is holding a certificate.
CIW Captain helps coworker become U.S. citizen

A casual conversation at a party ended up fulfilling one man’s dream of becoming a U.S. citizen thanks to the help of a Correctional Captain.

Kid and man watch baseball game.
Bigs with Badges fosters friendship, fun, mentorship

Every day, the men and women of CDCR give back to their communities. Captain Chance Andes is no exception. The California Medical Facility Captain spends his spare time volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sacramento Area (BBBS), spending quality time with his “Little Brother,” Christian.


Four mugshots and a Folsom Prison gate.
Notorious stagecoach bandits crossed paths with California prisons

This is the story of the choices made by those wearing a badge and the stagecoach robbers fleeing the law. Their paths often crossed again at one of California’s state prisons.

Various photos of three prisons.
Inmates observed Thanksgiving with meals, sports

Since the founding of the state prison system in the early 1850s, inmates have been allowed special concessions during national observances, such as Thanksgiving Day.

Headline says Cooke Snatches Crown from Tamalpais. There is a man sitting behind a steering wheel and an outline of a flight map.
San Quentin was foggy witness to historic 1911 flight

Just eight years after the Wright brothers took their historic 1903 flight in North Carolina, an aviator in California took to the skies for his own record-setting flight. His route included two flyovers of San Quentin State Prison. This is the story of how a letter penned by inmates helped plot the route flown by pioneer pilot Weldon B. Cooke.