CDCR Time Capsule

1989: Department director declares women a major force

(Editor’s note: The Director’s Message in the May 1989 edition of Correction News focused on the topic of women in corrections. It was penned by James Rowland, the department director from 1987 until 1991. Rowland had also been a deputy sheriff in San Bernardino County and a probation officer for Fresno County.)

By James Rowland

Twenty years ago, the only place you would see a female in a male prison was in an office behind a typewriter. Not so today.

In our prisons, as you enter, you’re likely to be greeted by a female correctional officer. A sergeant or lieutenant conducting a tour may also be a female.

Today, females function in every custody role and at every supervisory level. Women also supervise inmates in prison industries. They manage, counsel, teach and heal inmates throughout the system.

And when you walk into the front office of three of our 18 prisons, you’ll shake hands with a female warden.

Women are also active in Paroles, supervising the return of inmates into the community. At headquarters, they function as program managers and administrators.

These gains were not easy. They came out of the efforts of many pioneers who helped make a place for women in corrections: the first female correctional officer to supervise male inmates; the first female parole agent to supervisor male parolees; the first female sergeant, lieutenant and the first female commander of the SERT team; the first female warden of a male prison; and the first female Medal of Valor recipient.

We’ve celebrated these firsts. Others have followed and many others will follow. Those who fill in the ranks and help us realize that women belong in corrections, that their contributions are lasting and important.

Recently, we held the first CDC Women’s Leadership Forum. The Forum was designed to mobilize the talents and energies of women managers and supervisors.

At the conclusion of each of the varied sessions, recommendations were made on ways to increase the successful employment and retention of women workers.

We will continue to strive to meet labor force parity for women in corrections. We are looking for qualified, talented women to fill more supervisory and managerial positions. We will also remain vigilant in our efforts to maintain a work environment free from discrimination and sexual harassment.

We will continue to move forward.

We are proud of the accomplishments of women in corrections. But, more than that, corrections is better because of these accomplishments.