Inside CDCR


Two women wearing masks stand apart while exchanging a package.
5,500 masks donated to RJ Donovan facility

While Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJDCF) prepared for the San Diego County face mask mandate, effective May 1, the community was hard at work cutting, sewing, ironing, sanitizing, and packaging thousands of masks to donate to the institution. The Brahman Project, in collaboration with several dedicated groups of seamstresses, delivered 5,500 face masks to the RJDCF team. The masks were handed off to Raquel Buckel, Chief Deputy Warden, and Marcus Pollard, Warden (A). Both expressed their appreciation.


Video message supports dedicated efforts of CDCR, CCHCS

This past week, we’ve shared messages of appreciation in honor of Public Service Recognition Week, National Correctional Officers Week, Teacher Appreciation Week and National Nurses Week.

These video messages and Inside CDCR stories extend gratitude and thanks to all CDCR and CCHCS staff as they go about their professional duties in these difficult times.

This wrap-up video message from executive teams, leadership, institution staff, parole, and various other essential programs, supports the dedicated and determined efforts of our organization.

Thank you for providing a safe, sanitary and secure environment for all in our facilities and surrounding communities.

Masks, soap donated to CSP-LAC

The Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) recently donated 14,000 bars of antibacterial Dove Soap and 2,000 masks to California State Prison, Los Angeles County (LAC). ARC Executive Director Sam Lewis was present for the delivery.

Men and women hold a sign thanking nurses at a prison.
Across California, CDCR/CCHCS honor nurses

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.


Photo of crocheted masks of different colors, characters and sizes.
Pelican Bay turns to mask-making

Crafts for Community (CFC) at Pelican Bay State Prison’s Facility D, Level II, has turned to crocheting masks. Volunteers include 10 inmates who are busy crocheting the much-needed items. In a week-and-a-half, they made over 50 masks to be distributed in the community. They hope to make hundreds more.

A round of applause for correctional educators

As CDCR celebrates education staff during National Teachers Week, Office of Correctional Education Superintendent Shannon Swain and her team gathered remotely to share their thanks for the people who make learning happen within state prisons.

A prison inmate speaks into a microphone with others listen.
First-ever prison town hall gives incarcerated population a voice

For the first time, candidates for Los Angeles County District Attorney held a town hall meeting for incarcerated men at the county’s only state prison. Hosted by CSP-Los Angeles County and the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), the town hall’s goal was to provide incarcerated individuals and crime survivors the opportunity to let their voices be heard by the candidates who could impact their futures. The event was held at Facility A Visiting.


An officer puts handcuffs on a man.
Alert Parole Agent links high-risk parolee to sex crime

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.

Officer stands near a flag pole.
Correctional Officer headed for job interview talks down jumper

With thoughts of a Sergeant interview running through his mind, Correctional Officer Ranato Benitez-Sanchez was heading to Ironwood State Prison when he spotted a woman sitting on an overpass, looking down at traffic. Pulling over to ask if she was OK, he soon realized she was contemplating suicide.

Photos of a scarred head, a woman and man smiling, a crushed car and a helicopter at an accident scene.
Calipatria prison employee saves coworker in wreck

In the early morning hours on Friday, Sept. 6, the lives of two individuals would be drastically changed. While driving to work on Highway 111, Rosalie Cota came upon a huge cloud of dust blowing on the roadway, obscuring her vision, forcing her to slow down to a crawl. As the dust settled, Cota was able to see a vehicle on the opposite side of the road, flipped over and resting on the passenger side. The severely injured driver happened to be a correctional sergeant.


Man in tuxedo with a closer mugshot superimposed in the corner.
CDCR employee finds balance through Mark Twain

A 19th century literary figure serves as inspiration for Northern California native B. Clay Shannon, a CDCR Case Records Analyst. He’s worked for the department since July 2018. Shannon’s interest in Samuel Clemens, better known as author Mark Twain, began at an early age. Inside CDCR caught up with Shannon to discuss how he strives to achieve work-life balance.

Retired San Quentin Associate Warden Richard Nelson smiles as he sits in the prison museum.
Retired Associate Warden Dick Nelson helps keep California prison history alive

San Quentin State Prison is the oldest state correctional facility in California and one man has made it his mission to help others remember its history. Associate Warden Richard “Dick” Nelson began his preservation efforts in 1986 while he was still employed at San Quentin. Inside CDCR recently caught up with Nelson in the San Quentin Prison Museum.

Woman leads a group of equestrians in a memorial parade.
CDCR employee bucks bull-riding stereotypes

CDCR employee Kimberly Henson knew from an early age she had an affinity for bovines. Now, she directs that passion toward education, community involvement and rustling support for the longhorn steers’ forgotten contributions to settling the American West. When she’s not working at CSP-Sacramento, you will often find her on the back of her saddle-broke Texas longhorn steer, Cowboy Jazz.


A prison gate in the background with two grainy photos of a prison guard.
Correctional Officer survived slashed throat, shooting during 33 years of prison service

Correctional Officer Charles H. Jolly gave up his first career as a grocer after a devastating fire destroyed the Folsom business district. Already in his mid-50s, he went to work at Folsom State Prison in 1893. By the time he passed away in 1926, he held the record as the longest serving employee of the state prison system, logging 33 years.

Bandit mughsot of Tiburcio Vasquez and camels.
Notorious bandit’s fate tied to failed Army camel corps

Tiburcio Vasquez, an outlaw who plundered Central and Southern California for two decades, may owe his capture to a long forgotten military experiment. This latest installment of Unlocking History looks closer at a failed attempt by the U.S. government to settle the west with camels. It’s also a story about the outlaw who served as the inspiration for “Zorro.”

Drawing of California Institution for Women in 1930.
Photo Timeline: California Institution for Women

From the days of the first prison ships, CDCR has adapted to incarcerate females sentenced to state prison. Originally housed at San Quentin State Prison, the Women’s Ward went through many changes until the state’s first female prison was activated in 1933. In honor of Women’s History Month, Inside CDCR takes you inside California’s first women’s prison.