Thursday, May 22, 2014

CDCR participates in global TEDx talks to deliver message of rehabilitation

Rehabilitation was the word of the day as hundreds of inmates and guests gathered for Tedx Ironwood State Prison: “Infinite Possibilities.”

Speaker after speaker – including professors, doctors, actors, CDCR staff and inmates – shared stories of healing and hope. Inmate emcee Steve Duby pointed out that on the same day, TEDx talks were being held in Pompeii, Italy; Taipei City, Taiwan; Fuzhou, China; and Blythe, California.

“Today all of you are part of a global community,” Duby said as he began introducing the impressive list of speakers. One of the first was Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Mobile, who spoke on the importance of rehabilitating oneself while incarcerated.

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Sir Richard Branson, left, talks with Scott Budnick.

During a Q&A with organizer Scott Budnick, a film producer and founder of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Branson was asked why he feels it’s important that employers give formerly incarcerated people a second chance.

Branson replied that not only does it help offenders stand on their own two feet and make them realize they are loved and cared for, it’s also a great opportunity for companies to work with formerly incarcerated people who come out of prison educated and with job skills.

“I think as many companies as possible need to get out there and take people and give them a chance,” Branson said. “And I think they’ll be surprised by how successful it is.”

The independently organized TEDx event was made possible through a partnership of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and coordinators Budnick and the Ford Foundation. Each speaker helped spread the TED message: Ideas can change the world.

For inmate Marquise Clark, changing the world begins with getting an education. Of the 1,288 college degrees earned at ISP, at least one will be his. And for that, he shared, he’s “grateful for the opportunity” to be in prison — the theme of his talk.

“Being enrolled in college, passing the classes, gaining more knowledge and completing the classes satisfied me because it says that my future is looking bright again,” Clark said. “So yes, I am grateful for the opportunity to be in prison. I’m grateful to be alive, for how far I came.”

Getting an education, he emphasized, means not only expanding horizons, but also gaining self-value, self-confidence and courage.  Another speaker, Ellen Rutledge, focused on a different kind of courage: the courage to forgive.  Rutledge, chief executive assistant to Chief Deputy Warden Neil McDowell, lost her son in 2008 when he was murdered. While the journey to forgiveness was long and trying, she shared, it is possible. 

“Be assured: We all have the ability to forgive,” she said. “But it may not happen in one fell swoop. Sometimes it has to happen in waves. Sometimes we have to forgive someone many times before we can let go of all the emotional residue of the past.”

Rutledge wasn’t the only CDCR employee to speak at TEDx. Millicent Tidwell, director of the Division of Rehabilitative Programs, spoke about the importance of the “R” in CDCR, and ISP Correctional Officer Calvin Williams shared his story of growing up without a father, urging the inmates to stay connected with their children, as even a phone call can make a big difference in a child’s life.
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Therapist and self-help author Sean Stephenson talks at ISP’s TEDx event. 

Therapist and self-help author Sean Stephenson received one of the loudest standing ovations of the day after he spoke about making healthy choices. Stephenson, who was born with osteogenesis imperfecta (“brittle bone syndrome”), was given just months to live when he was born.

More than 30 years later, Stephenson’s motivational talks inspire others to live their dreams instead of focusing on their limitations.  Stephenson railed against pity, pointing out that had he chosen to wallow in self-pity, he would probably not be alive today. “I choose something else,” he said. “I chose to be strong. I choose to be a leader. I choose to have words to move this planet.”

Stephenson shared why he believes he was born, and encouraged the inmates to look inside themselves to find out why they were born, and use that knowledge to change the world. 

“I was born to rid this world of insecurity, because when a human being is insecure, we do stupid stuff … we chase external validation and external objects to try to tell us we are enough. You are enough.”

“I have a belief that has served me in my life, and that is that everyone is rooting for you to win, even those who do not know it.”
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Friday, May 16, 2014

CDCR inmate fire crews battle Southern California flames

By Bill Sessa, Public Information Officer, Office of Public and Employee Communications

After three years of below normal rainfall and drought, 2014 is already shaping up to be a year of historic fire danger and CDCR inmate fire crews are already are as busy as they normally would be in mid-summer.
On Thursday, 1,300 inmate fire fighters were battling nine separate blazes covering more than 11,000 acres in Southern California from Santa Barbara to San Diego.  CDCR has 42 adult and one juvenile fire camp and approximately 4,300 inmate-firefighters on the fire lines.  Working side by side with U.S. Forest Service and CALFIRE crews, the inmates play a large public safety role while saving taxpayers an estimated $100 million a year.

For information regarding additional rehabilitation programs, please contact Albert Rivas, Deputy Chief, External Communications, at (916) 445-4950 or email:

Sessa fire photo

Friday, May 2, 2014

Business to Business Roundtable: Discuss Innovative Methods to Help Your Business Grow

CARSON - Please join the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and Assemblymember Isadore Hall, III of District 64 for the Business to Business Roundtable (B2B) on Friday, May 9, 2014.  This quarterly open forum is a gathering of community and business representatives with a mission to revitalize economic growth in the region.

This quarter’s B2B topic is “Small Business: The Engine of the Economy.”  Richard Martinez, Procurement & Services Officer II of the California State Prison, Los Angeles County, will serve as a panelist to help the Los Angeles business community learn how to do business with CDCR.  Martinez will discuss procurement and contracting opportunities, as well as, provide information about the State of California Small Business Program.  More than 200 local suppliers are expected to attend. 

Event Details:

Business to Business Rountable
Friday, May 9, 2014
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM
California State University, Dominguez Hills
1000 E. Victoria Street, Extended Education Auditorium 1213
Carson, CA 90747

For additional information about the event, please contact Assemblymember Hall’s district office at (310) 223-1201.  For information about CDCR please contact Allie Powell or Albert Rivas with the Office of External Affairs at (916) 445-4950.

CDCR Launches Technology To Connect Parolees With Resources

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) Division of Rehabilitative Programs (DRP), Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO), and Enterprise Information Services collaborated to bring 18 new computer kiosks to select parole offices in 2014 that will better educate parolees on rehabilitative opportunities.

The Automated Rehabilitation Catalog and Information Delivery (ARCAID) machines will help parolees search and locate a wide range of available resources  from substance abuse treatment, sober living, health services, employment, child care, and necessary government services like driver’s licenses, social security and veteran’s services.

Each kiosk will have a user-friendly touch-screen for parolees to access the database of community resources available in his/her area. Parolees can select a nearby resource, view maps and contact information for their selections, and print directions to take with them.  The self-guided interface will help parolees find resources without the need for assistance. CDCR anticipates the ARCAID machines will increase parolee use of rehabilitative programs while reducing dependence on staff for research and referrals.

“Installation of these kiosks will streamline information on the rehabilitative services CDCR offers offenders in the community. Having ready access to this information is vital to successful reentry into their communities,” DRP Chief Millicent Tidwell said. “The ultimate goal is to reduce recidivism by increasing the use of these programs.”

In time, the ARCAID services will be available across a wide range of mobile devices. It will also be accessible by friends and family members of parolees so they can assist their loved one’s transition back into the community. Parole agents will also be able to track the activity of their parolees to help make sure they are receiving the help they’re looking for.

“Parolee involvement in rehabilitative programs within the community is critical to reducing their recidivism rate,” DAPO Chief Dan Stone said. “Our parole agents work very hard to help protect public safety. These new machines will be an additional resource for offenders to get the immediate assistance they need.”

The kiosks will be installed at 18 select parole offices strategically placed across the state. The parole offices that will be receiving the kiosks include; Antelope Valley, Bakersfield, Chula Vista, El Monte, Fresno, LA Central, Oakland, Orange-Anaheim, Richmond, Riverside, Sacramento, Salinas, San Bernardino, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Ana, Stockton, and Van Nuys.

Locations of the kiosks and other information about them is available here.

If you cannot access this link, here is the URL:

By Dana Simas, OPEC Public Information Officer.  For additional information, please call the Office of External Affairs at (916) 445-4950.