Wednesday, December 17, 2014

CDCR seeks to help religious inmates observe holy days

By Alexandra Powell, Office of External Affairs

With the holidays approaching, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is taking steps to facilitate the religious needs of inmates.  The Aleph Institute, a national, Jewish faith-based non-profit organization will host Spark of Light program at six CDCR institutions to assist inmates in observing Hanukkah.  Spark of Light is the only program in the United States serving Jewish inmates to ensure that they stay connected with their families, communities and Jewish heritage.  The program administrators will bring with them a pair of tefillin, a prayer book and a yarmulke.  All inmates will be informed of the program and will have the opportunity to participate regardless of religious preference.   
A program schedule is listed below:

Substance Abuse Treatment Facility – December 18, 2014
California State Prison, Corcoran – December 19, 2014
Avenal State Prison – December 21, 2014
Pleasant Valley State Prison– December 22, 2014
California Training Facility – December 23, 2014
Salinas Valley State Prison – December 23, 2014

For additional information about the upcoming program series, please contact Mr. Dave Skaggs at or (916) 324-1441.

For questions about CDCR, please call, Alexandra Powell with the Office of External Affairs at (916) 445-4950.

Monday, December 15, 2014

CDCR, CAL FIRE To Staff Ventura Fire Camp

CDCR, CAL FIRE To Staff Ventura Fire Camp
Inmate Fire Fighting Crews Will Increase Protection In a Vulnerable Region 

SACRAMENTO –To strengthen wildfire protection in a crucial stretch of coastal Southern California, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and CAL FIRE today jointly announced that they will return inmate fire crews full-time to a Ventura County camp that has been used sporadically in recent years.

The first of what is ultimately anticipated to be 100 inmate fire fighters are expected to arrive at Ventura Camp # 46 in Camarillo by December 17.

Formerly known as the S. Carraway Public Service and Fire Center, the conservation camp had been staffed with juvenile offender fire fighters between 1990 and 2011, when a declining number of incarcerated juveniles forced the camp to consolidate with another in Amador County.  Since then, CAL FIRE has staged inmate fire crews at the site temporarily when they were needed.

“Returning these crews permanently to Ventura will reinforce our ability to protect a highly populated region that is vulnerable to fire danger,” noted Jeffrey Beard, Secretary of Corrections and Rehabilitation, who noted that the inmate fire crews closest to the region are assigned to CALFIRE camps in San Luis Obispo and Palmdale, both more than 100 miles away.

“We are excited to be able to have the inmate staffing to increase not only the region’s fire protection, but also the brush clearance projects in which the crews will perform,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE Director.  “These inmates will go through a rigorous fire training program and become a key component to California’s fire response.” 

The state’s 4,300 inmate fire fighters are critical to controlling wildfires across the state. This year, inmate fire crews responded to well over 5,500 wildfires, which is 1,000 more wildfires than in a typical year.  When they are not working to contain wildfires, inmate crews perform community service projects year-round, including brush-clearing projects to reduce fire danger.

CDCR has supplied inmate fire fighters to CAL FIRE since 1946.  Only inmates convicted of low level felonies, with records of good behavior, who can meet the physical requirements of the rigorous work, and who are within two to five years of their release date are accepted as firefighters.  They are housed in 39 CAL FIRE camps across the state and five Los Angeles County camps and are closely supervised when they work on projects in the community.
The move to restore full time crews to Ventura was supported by local officials.  “I believe a fully functioning camp in Ventura County will provide vital resources that will benefit all of our residents,” said Geoff Dean, Ventura County Sheriff.

Kathy Long, Ventura County Supervisor, supported the recommendation of Sheriff Dean and Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen to revive the staffing at the camp.  “This local resource is critical to uphold our commitment to protect Ventura County residents and their property from the effects of natural disasters in this high risk community,” said Long.    

For community inquiries about Ventura Fire Camp, please contact Albert Rivas, Deputy Chief at or by phone at (916) 445-4950.

For media inquiries please contact:
CDCR Contact: Bill Sessa, (916) 445-4950
CALFIRE Contact: Dan Berlant (916) 651-3473

Monday, December 8, 2014

CDCR Helps Parolees Find Health Coverage

By Kristina Khokhobashvili, Public Information Officer
SACRAMENTO — Emphasizing its commitment to offender rehabilitation and long-term success after incarceration, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has ramped up efforts to ensure that parolees obtain health coverage.
“The benefits of receiving health care services, including primary health care, dental care, mental health and substance abuse services, are immeasurable for our parolee population,” said Dan Stone, Director of CDCR’s Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO).

In July, DAPO and the Division of Rehabilitative Programs (DRP) began robust outreach efforts to assist female parolees in obtaining health insurance coverage under the expanded eligibility criteria in the Affordable Care Act. That effort included developing county-specific Resource Guides and community resource fairs to encourage enrollment and provide referrals and assistance.
“Staying healthy is an important part of rehabilitation,” said Millicent Tidwell, DRP Director. “That includes treating mental health and substance abuse issues. By assisting parolees in obtaining coverage, CDCR is helping keep communities safe.”
Following the successful outreach effort, nearly every female parolee in California now has health coverage or is on her way to obtaining it.
From Aug. 1 through Sept. 30, staff followed up with California’s 3,455 female parolees to determine who was already covered and who was eligible for Medi-Cal, and to provide continued assistance in getting coverage. Today, 93 percent of the female parolee population either has health coverage (77 percent) or is in the process of obtaining coverage (16 percent). These outcomes do not include female parolees who were in custody, at large or otherwise unreachable.
For more information, please call (916) 445-4950.