Unlocking History

Black History Month at CDCR wraps up with look back

5 CDCR official portraits for Black History Month.
Clockwise, from top left, are Teena Farmon, Ruth Rushen, Walter Gordon, Reginald Pulley, and Otis Loggins.

As Black History Month comes to a close, Inside CDCR looks back at those who have contributed to the department throughout its long history.

Current employees owe much to those who came before

CDCR Division of Adult Institutions Director Connie Gipson began our 2022 celebration of Black History Month with a video interview. View Gipson’s video.

Acting Captain Monique Williams reflected on her own career and those who came before her. She has worked for the department for over 20 years. Read about her journey in corrections.

Avenal State Prison students learned about Black History Month with a special project. See the photos and story published in early February.

A look back at CDCR leaders

Otis Loggins began his career at California Medical Facility in 1958 as one of two African American correctional officers. In 1968, he promoted to captain. Years later, he was appointed as warden. Read the full story on Loggins.

Reginal Pulley was appointed warden of San Quentin in 1982. According to news reports, he was the “first black person to be named head of a maximum security prison in California.” He retired from state service in 1986. “If you don’t know your history, where you come from, you don’t know how you’re going to go forward,” Pulley said. Read the story on Pulley’s career.

Walter Gordon helped shape today’s parole system. In 1919, Gordon was the first black police officer hired in Berkeley. In the 1940s, he served on the Board of Prison Terms and Paroles. Read his inspiring story.

Black women break leadership barriers

Ruth Rushen, in 1980, became the first African American as well as the first woman to lead the entire department. Breaking barriers was something Rush knew all about. Earlier, she was the first woman appointed to the Board of Prison Terms. Believing education is key to rehabilitation, she pushed the department closer to modern standards. Previously, Rushen worked 18 years for the Los Angeles County Probation Department. Read about Rushen in our previous story.

Teena Farmon activated two female-focused institutions during her career with the department. “She was a black woman who accomplished so much, especially back then,” said her son, retired CDCR Sergeant Darin Farmon. She began her state career in 1968, working at various agencies. Farmon served as prison construction manager for the Northern California Women’s Facility at Stockton, then was appointed as the facility’s first warden. When Central California Women’s Facility opened in 1990, she was appointed warden. She passed away in 2021. Read the full story on Farmon’s career.

By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor

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