All Inside CDCR stories
Schools across California faced challenges during the statewide shelter-in-place orders. Those same challenges were also faced by schools inside the state’s prison system. Correctional educators turned to communication, cooperation and innovation to achieve rehabilitative educational goals.
Beyond the Badge
CDCR employees often open their wallets and hearts to those in need. For one family, they also opened their home and welcomed an additional son. Before joining CDCR’s Office of Correctional Education as the Supervisor of Academic Instruction, Marla Clayton Johnson was a vice principal at a Sacramento area high school. That’s where she met student Adrian Albin, a young man struggling with his grades.
Above the Call
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.
Christmas arrived early this year for the staff and inmates at R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility’s (RJD) dog-training program with the birth of nine wiggly and warm puppies. On Wednesday, Dec. 18, Patches, a black Labrador retriever, delivered a litter of nine pups at RJD’s Minimum Support Facility.
Law Enforcement Operations
Across the state, CDCR officials work to prevent gang-related criminal activity in the state’s correctional institutions. One such effort involved California State Prison, Los Angeles County (LAC). With investigations completed, details are being released regarding the efforts of LAC’s Institutional Gang Investigations unit (IGI), the Investigative Services Unit (ISU) and CDCR’s Office of Correctional Safety’s (OCS) Correctional Intelligence Task Force (CITF).
On May 4, a group of 10 incarcerated men, housed on the Progressive Programming Facility (PPF) at the California State Prison, Los Angeles County (LAC), came together to discuss how they can be of service to the community. They are part of the Leadership Legacy Council.
A Day in the Life
For a quarter century, corrections veteran Karen Mory has worked to dismantle preconceptions and stereotypes in her own life as well as those of offenders.
Jobs and Training
The desire to accomplish two major goals confronted Lucas Abarca, Special Agent of the CDCR Office of Internal Affairs. He wanted to encourage more people to consider CDCR as a law enforcement career and he wanted to improve his advancement opportunities. He found answers to both his desires in the Command College
“Since mid-March CDCR and the nation have been nothing like ‘normal program,’ and I ask myself: Will we ever return to normal? Rather than attempt to find ways to make the normal we are all familiar with fit into the new realities, I have to be honest: I am looking forward to not going back to normal program. This pandemic followed by the national attention on law enforcement reform have thrust us into the perfect moment to recraft this great agency once again. This is not the time for yearning for the good old days – and need I remind you, those days were only 90 days ago. If we do not put thought into action and start this recrafting of CDCR for the better, others will.” — Secretary Ralph Diaz
CDCR Time Capsule
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.
CDCR’s photographic archive often leaves staff with more questions than answers. One such photo is that of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt at San Quentin State Prison. No additional information is provided with the image. Warden Clinton Duffy is shown walking alongside the First Lady. Given her status, it didn’t take long for Inside CDCR to uncover the story behind the photo.
Division of Juvenile Justice
In January 2020, Derrick Williams became the first Proposition 57 CalFIRE Wildland Firefighter I graduated from Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp. When he was 15, Williams was convicted on serious charges in adult court. He was sent to an adult institution. Now, due to voter-approved Proposition 57, he qualified to be retried as a juvenile. He was re-sentenced, this time receiving a two-year term to be served in the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), where he was received March 11, 2019. When he is released in fall 2020, he will be 25.
Employee Health & Wellness
A mother-son team, both employed at California Institution Men, have turned on their home sewing machines to make masks for coworkers.
High Desert State Prison Correctional Officer Richard Bianchi died in a single-vehicle crash early in the morning on June 25 while on his way to provide security coverage at a Redding hospital. The California Highway Patrol responded to the crash on Highway 44, four miles east of Old Station Road in the Redding area. CHP officers found Officer Bianchi’s overturned state vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
CDCR announced the May 30 death of California Rehabilitation Center (CRC) Correctional Officer Danny Mendoza. He had recently tested positive for the coronavirus. “I am deeply saddened by this dedicated officer’s passing,” CDCR Secretary Ralph Diaz said. “My prayers are with the Mendoza family during this challenging time, and I know that everyone at CDCR sends their condolences and support.”
Appointments & Promotions
Awards & Recognition
Nurses across the state were thanked for their hard work during Nurses Week in mid-May. The following is a compilation of celebrations from Mule Creek State Prison, California Health Care Facility, California Correctional Center, CSP-Solano, Central California Women’s Facility, Ironwood State Prison, Kern Valley State Prison, California City Correctional Facility, California Men’s Colony, Sierra Conservation Center, Centinela State Prison, RJ Donovan Correctional Facility and California Correctional Institution, Chuckawalla Valley State Prison and CSP-Los Angeles County.
California Prison Industry Authority
CDCR inmates who participate in California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) programs are giving back to various crime victims’ support groups throughout the state for a total of more than $74,000. The money comes from offenders participating in CALPIA’s Joint or Free Venture Programs at five California institutions.
Division of Adult Parole Operations
On Feb. 6, the San Gabriel Valley Parole District hosted a Women Empowerment Meeting for the female offender population at America’s Job Center of California — Hacienda La Puente Adult Education Cosmetology School. Twenty-five women were treated to a day of motivational morale boosting, which included their choice of make-up, hairstyle or manicure. The day began with a lot of skepticism, but quickly shifted to a more positive outlook.
A pair of young adults from CDCR Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) are among the first firefighters from Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp accepted into a training and certification program for parolees and probationers with past firefighting experience at camps run jointly by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and CDCR. The two youth, ages 20 and 22, joined the fourth cohort of 25 trainee cadets at the Ventura Training Center (VTC) in Camarillo.
Prison Health Care
Victims & Survivors
CDCR Secretary Ralph Diaz asked all who work and live inside CDCR facilities, those in our headquarters and regional offices, and those teleworking in these unprecedented times, to recognize the victim and survivor community with a moment of silence during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
On Jan. 30, the California Institution for Women (CIW) Honor Guard participated in presenting the flags for the National Anthem during opening ceremonies at the Staples Center for the Los Angeles Clippers vs. the Sacramento Kings game. The center was full as it was also a memorial for the nine lives lost in the helicopter crash. Two of those killed were retired basketball player Kobe Bryant and his young daughter.
Often working without recognition or thanks are California’s correctional officers. These officers maintain public safety and ensure rehabilitative programs are held in a manner consistent with institutional safety. They perform their duties around the clock, seven days a week. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan recognized their efforts by designating the first full week in May as National Correctional Officers Week.