DJJ News Briefs: Vol 13, November 2020

Dr. Heather Bowlds appointed DJJ Director

Dr. Heather Bowds
Dr. Heather Bowds, DJJ Director

Dr. Heather Bowlds was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom as Director in October 2020. She had been serving as Chief Deputy Director and Acting Director since September 2019. From 2016-2019 she was deputy director of operations and programs at the Division of Juvenile Justice at the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

She has served in several positions at the Division of Juvenile Justice since 2004, including associate director of mental health, sexual behavior treatment coordinator, senior psychologist and clinical psychologist. She was a psychological associate at the California Youth Authority from 2002 to 2004. Dr. Bowlds earned a Doctor of Psychology degree in forensic psychology from Alliant International University, California School of Professional Psychology.

Said Dr. Bowlds, “I’ve spent my entire professional career at DJJ and am humbled and honored to be given this opportunity to lead our staff and youth through these challenging times.”

VYCF youth place twice in finals of song competition

VYCF Youth video conference
VYCF youth participated in a live announcement of the winners of the Unsung 2020 Song Contest.

The youth at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility were double winners as finalists in the Unsung 2020 Contest, a nationwide song writing competition for incarcerated youth sponsored by Soundtrap, (a Spotify Company) and BreakFree Education.

The song entitled Racial Injustice won second place for VYCF.  Another entry, Second Chances, won fourth place. Juvenile facilities in Oregon, Alaska, Missouri and Florida were also among the finalists. The double honor for DJJ youth marked the first time a single facility placed two songs in the top five. The top five songs are available as a playlist on YouTube.

The ceremonies, held via videoconference can also be viewed on YouTube which includes a youth created music video performance of Second Chances. In addition to the contest, youth participated in an international video chat with students at the Lakefield College School in Ontario, Canada. That enriching discussion was documented in detail their school newsletter.  Congratulations to the youth and reentry coordinator PA II Erika Mutchler, who helped shepherd the youth through the creative production and entry process.

Red Ribbon Week uses creativity to support a drug free culture

by Linda Bridges

Since 1988, Red Ribbon Week has been a catalyst to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities.  At NCYCC, community restoration via creative projects like a poster contest, and essays and poetry contests were the main activities under this year’s theme; Be Happy, Be Brave. Be Drug Free. The five day, October 2020 event was a success with an essay and three poems winning awards and six others garnering honorable mentions.  A half a dozen Chad youth participated in creating decorations for the weeklong series of events. Special thanks are due to Mrs. Villlaqomez for encouragement and YCO Gazeta for help and support. 

The winning essay, a critical self-evaluation based on a past history of substance abuse, reveals a profound truth and advice for peers: “No one is perfect and that’s okay; but what is not okay is when you use those imperfections to try to justify that it’s “okay” to use drugs. Don’t make the same mistakes that I’ve made.  It’s okay to ask for help…it’s never too late. You just have to be willing to change.”

It appears from the robust participation that youth have really thought about the meaning of this year’s theme: Be Happy. Be Brave. Be Drug Free – and how making healthy choices will help them achieve their goals in life – while having fun in the process.

Essays and poems displayed on wall

Essay and poems from Red Ribbon Week activities are displayed and shared with all.

Social Media provides access to cadets milestone

social media live capture of DJJ Director speach
DJJ Director Dr. Heather Bowlds addresses cadet graduates on November 6, 2020.

DJJ Director Dr. Healther Bowlds addressed a class of 37 new Youth Correctional Officers and Youth Correctional Counsellors at ceremonies held in Galt November 6. Due to COVID-19, families were not able to attend but the event was livecast via CDCR’s Facebook page @CaCorrections, with hundreds of participants offering support to the new YCOs and YCCs. A new class of recruits is scheduled to begin training at the Academy in Galt, February, 2021.

Graduating cadets in social media live

The November 6 graduating cadets are sworn in as new YCCs and YCOs in a physically distanced ceremony livecast on CDCR’s Facebook live stream, @CaCorrections, while cheered on virtually by nearly 200 friends and loved ones. 

Spirit of Giving: staff collect 42 turkeys for needy families

Nic Hatfield volunteering to unload turkeys from van

Nic Hatfield loads up the Elvis-mobile.
volunteers unloading turkeys for thanksgiving
In Sacramento, local Conservation Corps volunteers unload turkeys donated by CDCR staff.

The annual State Employees Holiday Food drive kicked off November 12 with a hearty gobble, gobble. DJJ headquarters staff donated 30 holiday turkeys and the CDCR Office of Research added a dozen more. All 42 were delivered by Nic Hatfield to the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services in Sacramento, part of a monumental effort that netted more than 16,700 turkeys in one day! That nearly tied last year’s record haul. The birds will be donated to area food banks help make holiday tables full of bounty. Thanks to Jermica Peters and Kim Dornback of HQ and Nic Hatfield, Ashley Gabbard and Amber Lozano of the CDCR Office of Research for organizing the drive under rather unusual circumstances.

Boo! What’s scarier than 2020? Halloween at DJJ

All Hallow’s Eve is an annual tradition at DJJ, but the pandemic forced some changes in the typical costume parties and potlucks that were the usual way of celebrating.  Headquarters staff participated in a virtual Zoom Halloween Costume party and staff meeting while facilities decorated common areas for everyone’s enjoyment for both Halloween and the next day’s Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).  Enjoy the following images:

Halloween decoration 1
Halloween decorations at NCYCC.
Halloween decoration 2
Halloween decorations at OH Close.
Halloween costumes
Rosemary Carrillo let the cat out the bag, while everyone is still wondering what Supt. of Education Troy Fennel is trying to teach us. Hint. A cosmic duality is evident here.
dragon costume
Don’t run afowl of Sonja Ortega.
Dr. Horon rider costume
Dr. Horon is still looking for his ride.

If you made it this far, you deserve a treat. But, you’ll have to make it yourself. Thanks to Jennifer Taylor for this contribution.

candy bar blondies recipe
Candy Bar Blondies recipe for screamingly good eating.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!