Inside CDCR


Message to all staff from CDCR Secretary Ralph Diaz

The efforts of all CDCR and CCHCS staff during this crisis have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. Receiver Clark Kelso and I deeply appreciative everybody who is going above and beyond during this time of great change.


Giving back by giving blood

Did you know that someone needs blood every two seconds? That means the need for donations is constant. Luckily, our staff are up to the challenge and eager to help. CDCR and California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) have teamed up with Vitalant to host a series of blood drives at Headquarters in Sacramento and Elk Grove.

Tips for preventing spread of COVID-19 include social distancing, hand washing, refraining from touching your face, staying home if you feel ill.
Where to find COVID-19 answers

Last week, we invited you to send us your questions about COVID-19. Since this situation is in flux with daily developments and decisions, the best way to get authoritative answers is to check our COVID-19 website regularly. Consider bookmarking it on your browser.

Prison inmate speaks to three people at an information booth.
Los Angeles County prison’s health care staff highlight patient safety

CCHCS staff at CSP-Los Angeles County came together to observe National Patient Safety Week, March 8-14. Dental, Nursing, and Mental Health staff visited a different yard each day and provided information to incarcerated patients on various patient safety and health topics.


A prison inmate speaks into a microphone with others listen.
First-ever prison town hall gives incarcerated population a voice

For the first time, candidates for Los Angeles County District Attorney held a town hall meeting for incarcerated men at the county’s only state prison. Hosted by CSP-Los Angeles County and the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), the town hall’s goal was to provide incarcerated individuals and crime survivors the opportunity to let their voices be heard by the candidates who could impact their futures. The event was held at Facility A Visiting.

Men in blue stand in an art studio inside a prison.
Incarcerated people find healing through art

Frieze Projects curators Rita Gonzalez and Pilar Tompkins Rivas visited the art studio at California State Prison, Los Angeles County (LAC), where they met with the incarcerated artists and worked with the members of the studio to select work that represented their stories and experience.

Women in blue surround an information table.
Housing, job, other aid offered at Folsom Women’s Facility resource fair

Folsom Women’s Facility (FWF) recently hosted a gender responsive resource fair for incarcerated women preparing for their return to the community.
CDCR’s Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO), Northern Region Adult Program Unit, coordinated with the Division of Adult Institutions to put on the event.


An officer puts handcuffs on a man.
Alert Parole Agent links high-risk parolee to sex crime

Sex-Offender Parole Agent Javier Cosme has a tough beat supervising high-risk sex offenders in the community. Mandated to wear GPS tracking devices on their ankles, these offenders are closely monitored.

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.


Man in tuxedo with a closer mugshot superimposed in the corner.
CDCR employee finds balance through Mark Twain

A 19th century literary figure serves as inspiration for Northern California native B. Clay Shannon, a CDCR Case Records Analyst. He’s worked for the department since July 2018. Shannon’s interest in Samuel Clemens, better known as author Mark Twain, began at an early age. Inside CDCR caught up with Shannon to discuss how he strives to achieve work-life balance.

Retired San Quentin Associate Warden Richard Nelson smiles as he sits in the prison museum.
Retired Associate Warden Dick Nelson helps keep California prison history alive

San Quentin State Prison is the oldest state correctional facility in California and one man has made it his mission to help others remember its history. Associate Warden Richard “Dick” Nelson began his preservation efforts in 1986 while he was still employed at San Quentin. Inside CDCR recently caught up with Nelson in the San Quentin Prison Museum.

Woman leads a group of equestrians in a memorial parade.
CDCR employee bucks bull-riding stereotypes

CDCR employee Kimberly Henson knew from an early age she had an affinity for bovines. Now, she directs that passion toward education, community involvement and rustling support for the longhorn steers’ forgotten contributions to settling the American West. When she’s not working at CSP-Sacramento, you will often find her on the back of her saddle-broke Texas longhorn steer, Cowboy Jazz.


Bandit mughsot of Tiburcio Vasquez and camels.
Notorious bandit’s fate tied to failed Army camel corps

Tiburcio Vasquez, an outlaw who plundered Central and Southern California for two decades, may owe his capture to a long forgotten military experiment. This latest installment of Unlocking History looks closer at a failed attempt by the U.S. government to settle the west with camels. It’s also a story about the outlaw who served as the inspiration for “Zorro.”

Drawing of California Institution for Women in 1930.
Photo Timeline: California Institution for Women

From the days of the first prison ships, CDCR has adapted to incarcerate females sentenced to state prison. Originally housed at San Quentin State Prison, the Women’s Ward went through many changes until the state’s first female prison was activated in 1933. In honor of Women’s History Month, Inside CDCR takes you inside California’s first women’s prison.

Two drawings and a painting of three California politicians.
1858: San Quentin’s first ‘Rules for Convicts’ issued

San Quentin State Prison’s early years were rife with escapes, attacks and scandal. In 1858, Governor John B. Weller, Lt. Governor Joseph Walkup and Secretary of State Ferris Forman issued the first Rules for Convicts at the State Prison. The three comprised the original Board of Prison Directors. As part of CDCR’s Time Capsule series, those rules are republished as written and have only been edited for clarity.