All Inside CDCR stories

A Day in the Life

Officer Webb and Warden Robertson in a decorated prison lobby.

Meet Officer Michael Webb, keeper of the gate

For over two decades, Correctional Officer Michael “Mike” Webb has helped CDCR fulfill its mission. As the General Population (GP) Entrance Gate Officer for Pelican Bay State Prison, he is the first line of defense in the entry and exit of the secure perimeter.

Woman smiles at camera while other photos shows aerial view of a prison and Folsom Lake.

Correctional Business Manager duties goes beyond numbers

Since 2006, Sarah Shepherd has charted a unique career path, now serving as Correctional Business Manager at California State Prison, Sacramento. Someone unfamiliar with the job classification may think it is solely about number crunching. To reach her current position, Shepherd has gained experience working in different areas of the department, ranging from parole to the Division of Adult Institutions.

Woman wears cowboy hat, pink tie and sunglasses.

CDCR’s plant operations keep institutions running

Every day, CDCR and CCHCS employees maintain public safety through incarceration, supervision and rehabilitation. To accomplish these goals, staff require functioning infrastructure. That infrastructure is kept running thanks to the efforts of those working in plant operations. Plants operations is a vital part of the state prison system, according to Avenal Correctional Plant Manager Catherine Lowas.

Appointments & Promotions

Graduating cadets sit in chair while a sergeant looks on.

181 cadets graduate Basic Correctional Officer Academy

The Basic Correctional Officer Academy (BCOA) recognized 181 graduating cadets as they joined the ranks of California’s correctional officers. The August 19 ceremony welcomed them into CDCR with Wasco State Prison Warden Heather Shirley delivering the keynote address.

A sergeant and six new officers in uniform.

Academy graduates 258 new correctional officers

The Basic Correctional Officer Academy saw 258 graduates in the class of 3-22A on March 13.

Bill Davidson signs papers at a desk.

Bill Davidson appointed CALPIA general manager

The California Prison Industry Board has appointed William “Bill” Davidson to serve as General Manager of the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) and Executive Officer of the Board.

Awards & Appreciation

2022 Medal of Valor ceremony with people in chairs.

CDCR honors employees at 2022 Medal of Valor

At its 2022 Medal of Valor Ceremony, the CDCR honored 44 people for their bravery in responding to crises and life-threatening situations as well as exemplary work of benefit to the department and the community.

Medalofvalor 42

CDCR to honor staff at 37th Medal of Valor

CDCR will honor 44 employees from across California for their bravery, service and exemplary work conduct benefiting the department and the public during the 37th annual Medal of Valor Ceremony.

High Desert prison warden presents Visionary Award to employee.

High Desert employee receives Visionary Award

Kristine Juell, an Associate Governmental Program Analyst at High Desert State Prison, received the 2022 Getting Out by Going In (GOGI) Visionary Award.

Beyond the Badge

Woman holds a breast cancer awareness pink CDCR patch.

For Michele Taylor, breast cancer awareness holds special meaning

After surviving a breast cancer battle, Michele Taylor, a retired annuitant, has an appreciation for October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. At 33 years old, Taylor endured surgery then fought through an excruciating 11 months of chemotherapy along with 7 weeks of radiation therapy, all while raising her 10-year-old daughter. Today, she’s a doting grandmother.

CALPIA

Incarcerated women wearing masks in the audience

CALPIA graduates earn job certifications, apprenticeships

Nearly 100 men and women at the California Institution for Men (CIM) and California Institution for Women (CIW) received industry-accredited job certifications and/or apprenticeships during back-to-back California Prison Industry graduation ceremonies on August 24-25.

seven men wearing prison blues hold certificates of completion.

Workforce skills help parole, re‑entry efforts

To reduce recidivism while increasing chances of successful re-entry after parole, the Correctional Training Facility and CALPIA are helping incarcerated people develop workforce skills.

CALPIA apprentices sit at ceremony in a prison.

CALPIA awards 53 apprentices with certifications

On May 12, CALPIA, in partnership with the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), recognized 53 incarcerated individuals as apprentices at Mule Creek State Prison.

CDCR Time Capsule

A female correctional sergeant and female cadets.

1987: Department publication highlights need for females in corrections

Revisit this 1987 story originally published in Correction News. — When Daniel J. McCarthy first became a correctional officer in 1949, the California Department of Corrections prohibited women from working inside a prison. In fact, women weren’t even allowed to tour prisons.

Five mugshots of three men and two women.

By the numbers: History of the inmate numbering system

A mid-1990s report penned by San Quentin Associate Warden Dick Nelson looks closer at the inmate identification numbering system and how it got started in California. Some who have been assigned numbers include stagecoach bandits Black Bart, Rattlesnake Dick and Charley Dorsey. Inside CDCR revisits Nelson’s report to put the number system into context.

A sign for Corcoran Prison features drawings of a prison tower and buildings.

Photo Timeline: CSP‑Corcoran

During the 1980s and ’90s, California expanded the prison system. The original 12 prisons were supplemented with new facilities ranging from Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City to R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego. Today, CDCR operates 35 adult institutions. One of those newer facilities is California State Prison, Corcoran. The men’s facility was activated in 1988 after two years of planning and another two years of construction.

Community Involvement

Basketball goes into net at San Quentin as referee holds up three fingers.

Golden State Warriors return to San Quentin

The Golden State Warriors faced off against the San Quentin Warriors for the first time since the pandemic. On Friday, Sept. 16, Golden State Warriors staff ranging from players and coaches to support, returned to San Quentin State Prison to continue their decade-long face off.

Four people stand on a dirt road, one of them wearing a full CDCR uniform.

CMF Officer Duenas, brother run for charity

When the Sacramento Police Department asked for help raising funds, CDCR Correctional Officer Gilbert Duenas answered. The annual 5k Run with the Cops was held Sept. 17 in Old Sacramento, raising money for the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy of Sacramento and the Sacramento Police Canine Association. Fellow CDCR employees also took part in the run.

Man wearing Native American clothing.

Navajo Code Talkers honored at CTF

Correctional Training Facility (CTF) recently hosted Navajo Code Talkers Day on the Facility B Yard. The event featured guest speakers, a wreath laying and traditional performances.

DAPO

Parole Agent beside a California state flag.

Parole Agent Cardenas finds balance through bees

When Parole Agent Luis Cardenas isn’t on the job helping parolees, he keeps busy caring for bees. Cardenas, a Medal of Valor recipient, also makes a positive impression on his coworkers.

Parole agent works on his phone while sitting in a car.

GPS parole agents offer resources, guidance and supervision

GPS Units of the Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) have a highly specialized mission but at the core, it’s all about helping parolees with rehabilitation.

Truck event with parole agents in Long Beach.

Parole agents interact with public at truck event

During the Long Beach Touch-a-Truck community event, parole agents were able to positively engage with the public.

Division of Juvenile Justice

Woman sits at a restaurant table.

Meet DJJ reading, language instructor Anna Conrad

Anna Conrad, a Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) instructor since 2006, said she’s enjoying her career helping incarcerated young people.

Teacher Craig Stewart wears sunglasses while standing beside a train.

Meet DJJ math teacher Craig Stewart

For nearly a quarter century, math teacher Craig Stewart has helped shape the futures of California’s incarcerated youth. He began his Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) career in 1999 as a part-time employee at Fred C. Nelles school in Whittier. Two years later, he became a full-time teacher, working at several California Youth Authority/DJJ facilities including now-closed facilities in Norwalk.

Graduation speaker at Mary Perry High School.

DJJ graduates urged to keep making goals

Approximately 60 DJJ youth received high school diplomas or GEDs in June ceremonies. The diplomas are granted by the California Education Authority, the fully accredited school district that encompasses all DJJ high schools; Johanna Boss and Chaderjian in Stockton; Pine Grove in Amador County and Mary B. Perry in Ventura County.

Dog News

Officer and his K-9 partner at Ironwood State Prison after helping a task force find a hidden cell phone.

Task force turns to CDCR K‑9 to find hidden phone

CDCR K-9 officers helped a task force find a hidden cell phone, a key piece of evidence in a murder investigation.

Correctional K-9 officer with dog.

Eagle‑eyed warehouse manager, K‑9 snare drugs

Teamwork between the warehouse and Investigative Services Unit (ISU) netted nearly $250,000 in contraband drugs and tobacco at Ironwood State Prison.

Seger, CMC ISU/K‑9, dies

On August 18, 2022, Seger, a K-9 assigned to California Men’s Colony, passed away.

Employee Wellness

International Day of Yoga logo

Participate in International Yoga Day through CDCR Wellness App

June 21 marks the eighth International Day of Yoga. Originating in India, Yoga is an ancient practice. Its name is from a word meaning “to join or unite,” referring to an alliance of body and mind. This year’s theme is “Yoga for Humanity,” promoting a sustainable lifestyle in the world around us, including our families, friends, and co-workers.

CDCR recognizes May as Mental Health Awareness Month

Since 1949, the United States has observed May as Mental Health Awareness Month. First started by the Mental Health America (MHA) organization, Mental Health Awareness Month attempts to raise awareness and increase understanding about mental health.

Office of Employee Wellness

CDCR looks for ways to support retirees

To expand wellness resources available for all employees, the Office of Employee Wellness (OEW) is working to create and enhance programs, resources, and methods of support for CDCR and CCHCS employees and their families. In addition to overseeing the statewide Peer Support Program (PSP), the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), the CDCR Wellness App, and Law Enforcement Chaplains (LECS/CCC), OEW provides psychosocial education and a pathway to departmental and professional resources when needed.

Firefighters

Ventura Training Center open house features cadets and a fire engine.

Ventura Training Center hosts open house event

The Ventura Training Center (VTC) recently hosted an open house where media and members of the Ventura County Public Defender’s Office got a closer look at the program. The VTC offers training opportunity for formerly-incarcerated firefighters.

Disaster training for a fire with four staff from various agencies.

Sierra Conservation Center hosts regional disaster training

Sierra Conservation Center hosted a regional Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) Training Drill on June 1, helping county and state agencies prepare for a disaster.

Ventura Training Center gradate shakes hands with fire chief.

VTC graduates 26 formerly incarcerated firefighters

Twenty-six formerly incarcerated firefighters recently graduated from the Ventura Training Center (VTC). Those who complete the program are highly qualified to apply for entry-level firefighting jobs with local, state, and federal firefighting agencies.

Inside CDCR Videos

Man wearing face mask reads in the CSP-Solano book club.

CSP‑Solano book club inspires learning

The incarcerated population at California State Prison, Solano, are finding inspiration through a book club. Book clubs are instructive, improve linguistic skills, foster transformative change, and serve as communities where members hone their writing abilities. Through a letter-writing curriculum developed in collaboration with Dr. Nicole Fox from Sacramento State University.

Officer supervises two incarcerated people stirring large kettles of food

Menu changes emphasize healthy diet

CDCR and CCHCS’ dedication to healthy eating is reflected in recent menu changes that put healthy choices front and center on everybody’s plate.

Bearded man speaks in front of a banner with the words Division of Adult Parole Operations

Parole offers resources beyond supervision

The Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) connects people on parole with community resources to help them succeed. During a recent resource fair, Inside CDCR met people seeking services as well as parole professionals fostering rehabilitation.

Jobs & Training

Officers at an information booth.

Employee benefits fair held at CIM

On September 28, the Chino Valley Employees’ Association (CVEA) at the California Institution for Men hosted the annual Employee Health and Benefits Fair. It was the first time the fair was held in over two years because of the pandemic.

Man in front of Native American tribal flags while holding feathers.

CDCR Native American Spiritual Leaders guide with purpose

As Native American tribes gathered to celebrate their shared heritage and culture, CDCR staff were on hand to answer questions about working for the department, including Michael Hermann, a spiritual leader.

Five correctional officers and a college professor.

CDCR, San Joaquin Delta College partner to hire new officers

David Terry, Professor of Correctional Science at San Joaquin Delta College, has been one of CDCR’s greatest recruiters. He has built a Delta College pipeline of qualified candidates to fill Correctional Officer positions statewide.

Obituaries

Correctional Officer Hector Vallejo passes away

Correctional Officer Hector Vallejo passed away September 30, 2022. He began his career in October 2005 as a cadet at the Richard A. McGee Correctional Training Center. After graduating the Academy, he reported to California Correctional Center (CCC) on February 25, 2006.

K-9 and officer in front of Folsom State Prison.

Blitz, retired CDCR K‑9, loses cancer battle

Blitz, the retired Investigative Services Unit K-9, passed away Sept. 22, 2022. For nearly six years, he was instrumental in numerous narcotics cases.

Correctional Officer Joseph Escajeda

Officer Joseph Escajeda passes away

San Quentin State Prison announced the passing of Correctional Officer Joseph Escajeda who passed away Sunday, September 25, 2022.

Prison Health Care

Officer supervises two incarcerated people stirring large kettles of food

Menu changes emphasize healthy diet

CDCR and CCHCS’ dedication to healthy eating is reflected in recent menu changes that put healthy choices front and center on everybody’s plate.

Three men at Correctional Training Facility at ISUDT graduation.

46 graduate ISUDT at Correctional Training Facility

On June 14 and June 30, the Correctional Training Facility and the Division of Rehabilitative Programs hosted two Integrated Substance Use Disorder Treatment (ISUDT) graduations on Facilities B and C.

Health Care Executive Brockenborough smiles and gives a "hang 10" hand sign.

Q&A with Health Care Executive Rainbow Brockenborough

Meet Rainbow Brockenborough, the Health Care Executive for Region I in CCHCS.

Rehabilitation

Basketball goes into net at San Quentin as referee holds up three fingers.

Golden State Warriors return to San Quentin

The Golden State Warriors faced off against the San Quentin Warriors for the first time since the pandemic. On Friday, Sept. 16, Golden State Warriors staff ranging from players and coaches to support, returned to San Quentin State Prison to continue their decade-long face off.

Man in front of Native American tribal flags while holding feathers.

CDCR Native American Spiritual Leaders guide with purpose

As Native American tribes gathered to celebrate their shared heritage and culture, CDCR staff were on hand to answer questions about working for the department, including Michael Hermann, a spiritual leader.

Man wearing Native American clothing.

Navajo Code Talkers honored at CTF

Correctional Training Facility (CTF) recently hosted Navajo Code Talkers Day on the Facility B Yard. The event featured guest speakers, a wreath laying and traditional performances.

Secretary's Corner

Heroes work here sign with the CDCR logo and an American flag.

Secretary, Receiver thank staff for their dedication to public service

As we enter the month of May, and reflect on the year behind us and the one before us, we wanted to send a collective thank you to all of our incredible staff across the state. Whether you are in one of our 35 prisons, working in a parole office, in DJJ, in a field office, or in headquarters, thank you for your hard work. Thank you for your dedication and for serving the people of our great state, your communities, and your families with love and unwavering commitment, even as we faced the biggest health crisis our world has seen in a century.

Photo of Kathleen Allison, Secretary of CDCR.

Important COVID‑19 message from Secretary Allison

On Dec. 3, Governor Newsom announced a new regional stay at home order as COVID-19 numbers continue to climb statewide. The new order will be tied to intensive care unit (ICU) capacity in the state’s five regions if it falls below 15%. Too many families are being impacted, including many in CDCR. As Secretary, I am committed to ensuring our more than 60,000 employees do their part to avoid this scenario.

Woman facing camera

Thanksgiving message from Secretary Allison

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, albeit in a different way than in years past, and as the holiday season begins, I would like to express my gratitude for each and every one of you, our hardworking staff at CDCR and CCHCS, for your tireless work and commitment to our department and to the people we serve.

Sports

Basketball goes into net at San Quentin as referee holds up three fingers.

Golden State Warriors return to San Quentin

The Golden State Warriors faced off against the San Quentin Warriors for the first time since the pandemic. On Friday, Sept. 16, Golden State Warriors staff ranging from players and coaches to support, returned to San Quentin State Prison to continue their decade-long face off.

Four people stand on a dirt road, one of them wearing a full CDCR uniform.

CMF Officer Duenas, brother run for charity

When the Sacramento Police Department asked for help raising funds, CDCR Correctional Officer Gilbert Duenas answered. The annual 5k Run with the Cops was held Sept. 17 in Old Sacramento, raising money for the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy of Sacramento and the Sacramento Police Canine Association. Fellow CDCR employees also took part in the run.

CRC warden throws the first pitch for a baseball game.

CRC warden throws first pitch at Quakes game

California Rehabilitation Center (CRC) partnered with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes for a special employee family night Thursday, September 8.

Other stories

Daylight saving time graphic shows clock and fall leaves.

Remember to set clocks back one hour Saturday night

Daylight Saving Time officially ends at 2 a.m., Sunday, November 7, 2021, when the clocks “fall back” one hour. To best follow the time change, it is recommended to set the clock back an hour when heading to bed Saturday night.

A decorated cake has the words Happy 245th Birthday Marine Corps.

Avenal prison staff honor Veterans Day, Marine Corps birthday with cakes

Avenal State Prison Correctional Lt. and former Marine John Mendiboure continued an annual tradition of honoring the institutions’ veterans by holding a cake-cutting ceremony in the snack bar.

Staff-carved pumpkins are displayed at California Institution for Women.

Pumpkin carving spurs staff competition at CIW

Staff from the California Institution for Women (CIW) put their creative skills to the test by carving pumpkins to display at the institution. The friendly contest was judged by their peers.

Unlocking History

San Quentin gallows and portrait of executioner Amos Lunt.

Tragic tale of Amos Lunt, the San Quentin executioner

After witnessing the horrors of the Civil War, working as a police officer and finally serving as San Quentin hangman, Amos Lunt spent his final years in an insane asylum. A century ago, little was known about trauma’s impact on mental health. This is the story of a staff member who, if diagnosed today, would have had access to a range of mental health services and peer support.

Two men stand beside open graves.

San Quentin grave markers tell stories of two men

Two inmate numbers on grave markers reveal the stories of a miner and a young gambler who landed at San Quentin in the early 1900s. The markers showed up at the San Quentin Prison Museum, leaving museum co-founder and volunteer Jeff Craemer a bit stumped.

Man hands a woman paperwork.

Meet CDCR’s first parole agents

Among the first parole agents were a fingerprint expert, a man involved in charitable causes, and a former deputy sheriff.

Victim & Survivor Rights

CTF guest speaker discusses victims and crimes.

CTF events give victims a voice

Near the end of April, the Correctional Training Facility (CTF) held their 10th annual National Crime Victims Week events, hosted by the Amity Foundation.

Ironwood prison raises money by walking for victims of the Ukraine war.

Staff, incarcerated walk for Ukraine war victims

Ironwood State Prison’s incarcerated population, led by Warden Neil McDowell and Chief Deputy Warden John Merchant, walked to raise funds for victims of the war in Ukraine.

Ironwood Redemption and Forgiveness workshop seeks to heal

For National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, Ironwood State Prison offered a Redemption and Forgiveness workshop, helping serve victims of crime.