DJJ News Briefs, Vol 12, October 16, 2020

Maria Hudson named DJJ Professional of the Year

Maria Hudson.
Maria Hudson, Deputy Director, Administrative Services

Deputy Director of Administrative Services, Maria Hudson is DJJ’s 2019 Professional of Year, and received her award in virtual ceremonies held last month. Described as a dynamo, Maria has worked tirelessly to set up the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to thrive. Hudson meticulously led the creation of the extensive Budget Change Proposals necessary to support DJJ’s planned transition and has also managed three moves of the DJJ Headquarters office in recent years.

Maria supported the Division through legislative pre-hearings and meetings with legislative staff to ensure that DJJ receives exactly what it needs to provide trauma-informed, developmentally appropriate care to youth. She has embodied tenacious, proactive leadership through her work as the Deputy Director of Administrative Services. Maria has led the hiring process of new executives, and overseen hiring of new professional staff in administration, information technology and training.

She has trained new staff in her former duties, while treating her peers and subordinates alike with professionalism and uncommon good cheer. Maria models enormous leadership skills every day as she tackles myriad issues brought before her with calmness and thoroughness, and she inspires her direct reporting staff to be their very best. Please extend congratulations to Maria for a job well done.

Last Mile Coding logo.

Last Mile Coding returning to DJJ

Last Mile Coding, the computer programming class that prepares students for careers in technology is returning after having to suspend operations due to COVID-19. Applications recently closed for a new cohort of ten students who will receive in-class instruction while observing social distancing protocols. Last Mile Coding was first started at San Quentin State Prison and expanded to prisons including DJJ facilities in Stockton and Ventura.

Youth are paid salaries and graduates must meet educational and behavioral requirements. Graduates are eligible to compete for lucrative entry level coding jobs in the technology, entertainment, financial services and medical sectors. Beginning salaries for qualified coders are routinely in the high five figures at Fortune 500 companies like Facebook and Google.

Pine Grove Youth Meet Governor Newsom

Gov. Gavin Newsom poses with a Pine Grove hand crew in Calistoga. Photo courtesy of Office of the Governor.
Gov. Gavin Newsom poses with a Pine Grove hand crew in Calistoga. Photo courtesy of Office of the Governor.

Pine Grove youth firefighters have been crisscrossing the state this historic fire season, called upon to battle wildfires in Riverside, Butte, Madera and most recently, Napa County. It was in Calistoga in September that a hand crew encountered Gov. Gavin Newsom, who was touring fire suppression efforts in California’s renowned wine country. He posed for this photo wearing his CAL FIRE shirt. Gov. Newsom signed legislation this year making it easier for formerly incarcerated people to apply for firefighting jobs, since a past criminal record is often a barrier to future employment. Additional legislation signed by the governor recognizes the importance of Pine Grove as an important rehabilitative resource and intends to keep it available for youth.

Yarn it! We need more!

Assorted Beanies.
Beanies created by OHC youth, donated to victims of wildland fires. Photo by Angie Tarbat.

By Angie Tarbat

The last two years, the youth at O.H. Close worked on a structured leisure activity of making beanies as a Restorative Justice project. Pine Grove youth also participated in a similar project. Each year at OHC, more than two dozen youth worked on the project, the majority of whom had never done any looming before. All the youth took pride in their work and really enjoyed the activity. Additional benefits from the activity include stress relief, focus, creativity, and social time.

Last year, 54 beanies were donation to a community church in Magalia assisting victims of the Camp Fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise and neighboring communities.  The previous year, 48 beanies were donated to the Camp Fire victims and 24 were donated to Mary Graham Children’s Shelter in Stockton. Pine Grove beanies were donated to UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

In previous years, all of the yarn was donated by two private benefactors, but now supplies are running low. Do you have excess yarn that you would like to donate? If so, please reach out to Angela Tarbat, Recreational Therapist at OHC. Contact her at 209-944-6050.

Add another star to the court!

Ventura youth with 2019-20 NB Champion LA Lakers.
VYCF youth, the 2019-20 NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers, actor Michael B. Jordan, Producer Scott Budnick and members of Represent Justice and Anti-recidivism Coalition, December 23, 2019.

Congratulations are due to the Los Angeles Lakers, who won the NBA Championship for the 17th time by defeating the Miami Heat in the NBA finals on October 11. Last December 23, prior to the pandemic, youth from Ventura Youth Correctional Facility posed with the future champs, including superstars Lebron James, Anthony Davis, actor Michael B. Jordan, and the rest of the team at a memorable event for youth held at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo. The event was sponsored by the Lakers Youth Foundation, Represent Justice, producer Scott Budnick and the Anti-Recidivism Coalition.

Website repurposed for DJJ Realignment information

Web site repurposed for DJJ Realignment information

The website devoted to information about the planned transfer of DJJ out CDCR and into the Health and Human Service Agency has been repurposed. The site, now entitled DJJ Realignment Portal, includes information about SB 823, the Budget Trailer Bill that paves the way for the eventual closure of DJJ. Memos, FAQs and other information will be posted there. Got questions? You can continue to send queries to