Centinela prison mourns passing of Correctional Officer Henry Sanchez

Two photos of man in uniform, one of them when he was younger. A third photo shows him at home wearing a blue shirt.
Correctional Officer Henry Sanchez through the years.

By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor

Since 1994, Correctional Officer Henry Sanchez had been a calming influence, offering words of advice to fellow employees at Centinela State Prison (CEN). On July 24, 2020, those words fell silent. Sanchez passed away, leaving family, friends and coworkers to remember him.

When Sgt. Anthony Rivera was an officer, Sanchez gave him some advice that has proved useful.

“Don’t let this job change who you are, just remember that,” Sanchez told him. “Because sometimes working in a place like this will do that to you.”

On July 16, 1994, Sanchez became a cadet at the Richard A. McGee Correctional Training Center. He reported to CEN as a correctional officer on Aug. 29.

“Henry’s hobbies were spending time with his family, fishing, accomplishing home projects and devoting time to his church,” said his wife, Dorothy. “Aside from family and church, he loved his work.”

Sgt. James Martinson said Sanchez was always pleasant and willing to help coworkers complete their tasks.

“The Third Watch Facility A staff all agree that Officer Sanchez was an enjoyable person to work with,” said Martinson.

Coworkers said he was a mentor to many and had a positive attitude.

“If there was a question asked of Officer Sanchez which he did not know the answer, he would take the time to find the answer for you,” Martinson said. “He was always willing to give advice.”

Sanchez mostly worked Third Watch on Facility A but also spent time as a Yard Officer, the Facility A Clinic Officer and ran a housing unit in Facility D, Building 2.

“Officer Sanchez needed very little supervision, if any, to complete any task while on the job. You would never catch Officer Sanchez in a bad mood. He was always in good spirits when he was here at Centinela State Prison,” said Sgt. Rivera.

For more than five years, Sgt. Rivera was Sanchez’s supervisor, at least a few days a week.

“When Sanchez worked in Facility A Clinic he was always my first clinic officer to show up to work and my last officer to leave and sign out,” he recalled. “I have known Officer Sanchez for over 12-and-a-half years and not only was it a privilege, but an honor, to work with him.”