Friday, June 29, 2007

Expert Panel on Corrections Reform Offers California a Roadmap for Reducing Recidivism and Overcrowding

Panel's Recommendations Could Reduce Population Significantly

SACRAMENTO - As part of the state's commitment to comprehensive prison reform, a panel of national experts advising the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has released a report titled “A Roadmap for Effective Offender Programming in California.” The report was commissioned by the California State Legislature, and provides recommendations for improving the state’s rehabilitation model, as well as strategies to significantly reduce recidivism and overcrowding.

“The expert panel’s report will serve as a tool for implementing the historic corrections reforms that were signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger this year,” said CDCR Secretary James Tilton. “The panel’s innovative work provides a cutting edge roadmap to reduce overcrowding and bring California up to speed with other states.”

The report recommends new models for in-prison rehabilitation programs, risk assessment tools for analyzing parole revocation decisions, and other methods to reduce recidivism and end the perpetual overcrowding crisis the state has faced in recent years. The report suggests that if all of the panel’s recommendations were adopted, California could significantly impact overcrowding and reduce its inmate population. The population reductions could result in estimated annual savings of $561 to $684 million after considering the additional investment costs for rehabilitation facilities and programs.

“The key to reducing the number of inmates who return to prison lies in matching the needs of individual inmates to evidence-based rehabilitation programs,” said expert panel co-chair, and rehabilitation strike team member Dr. Joan Petersilia. “Preparing offenders for a crime-free and successful life upon release will ultimately improve public safety.”

”The expert panel’s report will be an invaluable tool for the strike teams and CDCR policy implementers,” said expert panel chair and Chief Deputy Secretary of Adult Programs Marisela Montes. “The roadmap will allow the state to accelerate plans to carry out the department’s renewed mission of rehabilitation.”

The CDCR Expert Panel on Adult Offender Reentry and Recidivism Reduction Programs is comprised of some of the best and brightest minds on corrections and rehabilitation from across the country. Members were chosen for their broad experience in rehabilitation, education, correctional administration, psychology, and organizational development. The panel’s recommendations are based on scientific research and evidence and reflect the best practices used by correctional agencies in other states.

The expert panel made 11 key recommendations. Some relate to areas that are being addressed through AB 900, the comprehensive reform package signed into law in May 2007. Others seek additional legislation, while some suggestions may be accomplished administratively.

Summary of Key Expert Panel Recommendations:

Recommendation 1 – Reduce overcrowding in prison facilities.

Recommendation 2 – Enact legislation to expand positive reinforcements for offenders who complete rehabilitation programs and follow the rules. CDCR must improve on matching offender needs with program objectives.

Recommendation 3 – Select and utilize a risk assessment tool to assess an offender’s risk to reoffend. Risk assessments tools have been utilized for parolees, and should be expanded to assess all offenders.

Recommendation 4 – Determine offender rehabilitation programming based on the results of assessment tools that identify and measure risks and needs. CDCR should develop and utilize a risk-needs matrix to assign offenders to programming.

Recommendation 5 – Create and monitor a behavior management (or case) plan for each offender. Case plans are critical to assigning offenders to the right programs.

Recommendation 6 – Select and deliver a core set of programs for offenders that cover major offender areas. These include: academic, vocational and financial; alcohol and drugs; anger management; criminal thinking; family; and sex offenses.

Recommendation 7 – Develop systems and procedures to collect and utilize programming process and outcome measures. This will allow CDCR to determine the effectiveness of programs, reasons for outcomes, and ways to improve.

Recommendation 8 – Continue to develop and strengthen formal partnerships with community stakeholders. This will improve coordination of transition services for offenders moving from prison to their home communities.

Recommendation 9 – Modify community based programs to ensure they target the crime patterns of offenders, meet their basic needs upon return, and identify risk factors in their home community.

Recommendation 10 – Engage the community to help reduce likelihood offenders will return to a life of crime. Critical thinking, positive relationships, and healthy behaviors are critical to offenders’ success upon release.

Recommendation 11 – Develop structured guidelines to respond to technical parole violations, based on risk and seriousness. Sanctions and incentives are important tools.

A list of panel members and the panel's full report, A Roadmap for Effective Offender Programming In California, is available on CDCR's website,

CDCR Expert Panel Final Report

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

CDCR Inmates, Wards Fight Angora Fire South of Lake Tahoe

As fire season continues, nearly 1,600 inmate and ward firefighters battle blazes around the state

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – Today, 330 California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) adult inmates and 32 Division of Juvenile Justice wards have joined firefighters from city and county fire departments and state agencies to battle the Angora Fire south of Lake Tahoe. The inmates and wards are supervised by CDCR custody staff and are part of the Conservation Camp Program established in 1946.

“For the past 61 years, CDCR has provided the State of California’s cooperative agencies with an able bodied, fully trained work force ready to respond to a wildfire at a moment’s notice in any part of the state,” said CDCR Secretary James Tilton. “The inmate and ward crews provide the muscle in the state’s firefighting response, going where bulldozers and heavy equipment cannot go.”

An additional 1,237 inmates supervised by 104 correctional staff are deployed to fires in Napa, Madera and Kern counties.

“Since last weekend, we have augmented the number of firefighters at the Angora Fire with additional crews located all over the state,” Tilton said.

There are 42 adult and two Division of Juvenile Justice conservation camps in California. CDCR jointly manages 39 adult and juvenile camps with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and five adult camps with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. More than 4,400 offenders participate in the program, which has approximately 200 fire crews.

The crews respond to all types of emergencies, including wildfires, floods, search and rescue operations and earthquakes. They also work on conservation and community service projects on public land throughout the year when not fighting fires.

Only minimum-custody inmates participate in the Conservation Camp Program. They must be physically fit and have no history of violent crime including kidnapping, sex offenses, arson or escape. Juvenile offenders earn their way into camp placement and must be free of major rule infractions. Wards convicted of sex offenses or arson are excluded.

“The Conservation Camp Program provides an enormous benefit to offenders. They learn skills, teamwork and discipline as well as a solid work ethic that will serve them well when they are released from prison,” Tilton said. “The citizens of California benefit by having a fully trained workforce able to respond to fires. Moreover, the program saves the state more than $80 million every year that otherwise would be paid to accomplish the same tasks.”

View Fact Sheet on the Conservation Camp Program

View Background on the Conservation Camp Program

Friday, June 15, 2007

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Graduates Year's Largest Class of Correctional Officers

GALT - The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) today graduated this year's largest class of correctional officers at the R. A. McGee Correctional Training Academy in Galt. The correctional officer training is part of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s commitment to increase public safety in the State’s prison system.

CDCR Operations Undersecretary Bud Prunty expressed his appreciation to the cadets, “I commend you on your dedication to serve the people of California by working in our prison system. You are among a select few who have successfully passed the rigorous testing to reach this level. Your work is important to the prison reforms being implemented by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

The 388 graduates of the program have already been assigned to specific adult correctional institutions where they will begin their careers as correctional officers. Cadets receive 640 hours of instruction at the academy, including classes in leadership and ethics, crime scene investigation, inmate supervision, emergency operations, first aid, and physical fitness training. Upon graduation from the academy, new Correctional Officers earn more than $45,000 per year. Top level Correctional Officers can earn more than $73,000 per year.

The Department is making progress toward meeting its goal to select and hire correctional officers to fill every established position vacancy, including new court required positions. CDCR has intensified its recruitment efforts to increase the number of correctional officers who are needed throughout the state. CDCR receives approximately 7,500 correctional officer applications per month. Typically, only four percent of the potential candidates pass the selection process, which includes psychological, academic, background investigation, medical and physical fitness evaluations.

During the last fiscal year, approximately 2,431 cadets have graduated from the academy. CDCR currently has approximately 22,860 correctional officers. It is anticipated that as of July 1 there will be approximately 1,890 correctional officer vacancies.

For pictures go to

Sacramento Bee Article - Steve Wiegand: On the right side of the bars


Program brings children, incarcerated fathers together at three men's prisons, lowers risk of recidivism by participating inmates.

SACRAMENTO - The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles are again working together to bring children to visit their incarcerated fathers on Father’s Day. This is the third year the program is made available to fathers and their children and other family members.

The offenders are housed at three adult male institutions: the California Correctional Institution (CCI) in Tehachapi, the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJDCF) in San Diego, and the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo. The visits are today at CCI, on June 15 at the RJDCF and on June 23 at the Men’s Colony.

The children, who are accompanied by loved ones and guardians, will visit as part of the annual Get on the Bus program. This year, four buses with more than 110 children and their guardians will travel from cities in southern California to the two prisons. The fathers have to be on good conduct for one year to earn a visit from their children.

When released from prison, those fathers are less inclined to return to crime because of the ties they have maintained with their children, according to most industry researchers.

“Every child wants to see, touch and talk with their father, whether they are incarcerated or not,” said Lea Ann Chrones, Director (A), Division of Adult Institutions. “Get on the Bus helps dads and kids stay connected. This benefits these children by lowering the likelihood that their father will return to prison.”

Get on the Bus provides free transportation for children and their caregivers, travel bags for the children, comfort care bags for the caregivers, a photograph of each child with his or her father, and meals for the day. The meals include breakfast, snacks on the bus, lunch at the prison, and dinner on the way home. On the bus trip home, following the visit with the fathers, each child receives a teddy bear with a letter from their father as well as post-event counseling. Children with fathers in prison are usually cared for by relatives, often grandparents, who are often unable to make the drive due to distance or expense. The program is funded by donations from churches, schools, agencies, family foundations, grants and other organizations.

Slideshow of Photos

Learn more about Governor Schwarzenegger's comprehensive prison reform package at:

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Gov. Schwarzenegger conducts Town Hall in Bakersfield

On June 14th the Governor participated in a town hall hosted by the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, AARP, California State PTA and Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The Governor discussed an aggressive agenda including prison reform, healthcare, education, global warming, and other important issues. Secretary Tilton also participated in the meeting.

Photo Credit: Duncan McIntosh, Office of Governor Schwarzenegger.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Gov.Schwarzenegger conducts Town Hall in Chico

Gov. Schwarzenegger on June 11 participated in a town hall hosted by the Chico Chamber of Commerce, AARP and California State PTA. The Governor discussed an aggressive agenda including prisons, healthcare, water, public private partnerships, global warming, low carbon fuel standards, infrastructure, education and the May Budget Revision. The following photo was taken at the Little Chico Creek Elementary School in Chico, CA.

Photo Credit: Duncan McIntosh, Office of Governor Schwarzenegger.

View Governor Schwarzenegger's Speech: Video

Friday, June 8, 2007

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Chief Deputy Secretary Marisela Montes Discusses Prison Reform at Monterey Town Hall with Governor Schwarzenegger

Gov. Schwarzenegger today participated in a town hall hosted by the Old Monterey Business Association, AARP, California State PTA and the Monterey County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The Governor discussed an aggressive agenda including prisons, healthcare, redistricting, water, public private partnerships, global warming, low carbon fuel standards, infrastructure, education and the May Budget Revision.

Marisela Montes, Chief Deputy Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, participated in the town hall. Montes discussed the comprehensive prison reforms the Governor recently signed into law. She also explained the new model of secure re-entry centers in local communities.

Listen to audio of Marisela Montes discussing prison reform: Audio (7MB MP3 File)
For Additional Audio please visit:

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

More Than 100 Inmate Students Graduate from Palo Verde College

Partnership between Palo Verde College, CDCR and California Community Colleges provides prisoners with education and rehabilitation

BLYTHE, CA – The largest number of inmates in the United States ever to earn higher education degrees at one time graduated today at Ironwood State Prison and Chuckawalla Valley State Prison. This historic achievement is the result of a unique partnership between Palo Verde College (PVC) in Blythe, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO).

“There is abundant research showing that post-secondary education programs give inmates opportunities and tools needed to successfully re-enter society,” said CDCR Secretary James E. Tilton. “Studies have also shown that inmates who participated in correctional education programs were far less likely to return to prison after release. Strategies to reduce recidivism provide enormous fiscal and public safety benefits and are key components to the Governor’s recently enacted reforms.”

Friends, families, college faculty and staff, corrections administrators and community college guests were on hand to celebrate the hard work and academic achievements of the incarcerated students. Seventy-one Ironwood State Prison (ISP) inmates earned Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees, and another 15 received vocational certificates. At the neighboring Chuckawalla Valley State Prison (CVSP), 27 inmates received Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees and 20 inmates earned vocational certificates.

Education administrators note that the distance learning college program at the two prisons has provided advantages to PVC, the community of Blythe, and surrounding areas.

“Our college programs at Ironwood and CVSP not only benefit incarcerated students, but the students in our community as well,” PVC Superintendent/President Dr. James Hottois said. “The distance education program has enabled us to offer a broader curriculum and expand course offerings to the students in outlying areas served by the college and to disabled students unable to attend classes on campus,” he added.

Nine of the incarcerated students at ISP graduated Cum Laude (3.5 to 3.699 GPA), eight Magana Cum Laude (3.7 to 3.899 GPA),and two Summa Cum Laude (3.9 to 4.0 GPA). Seven CVSP students graduated Cum Laude, two Magna Cum Laude, and one Summa Cum Laude.

California Community Colleges Chancellor Marshall (Mark) Drummond celebrated the hard work and academic achievements of the inmate students. Noting this invaluable higher education partnership, Chancellor Drummond said, “This program is fulfilling the mission of the community colleges – which is to provide quality education that is affordable and accessible to all Californians – including those students who are incarcerated. This program can be replicated if other community college districts choose to do so. But for now, we want to recognize the inmate students whose many hardships did not prevent them from earning their degrees. We appreciate the productive partnerships that Palo Verde College has enjoyed with Ironwood and Chuckawalla Valley State Prisons.”

PVC’s college project at ISP started in the spring of 2001 and is the first among community colleges to offer a comprehensive post-secondary program of study within prison walls. Inmates have no access to computers or the Internet, so PVC faculty members videotape their classes. Inmates at both prisons assist by providing tutoring and support for students in study groups.

Supportive services, including textbooks and counseling, are offered to inmates enrolled as full-time students at PVC through Extended Opportunities Programs and Services (EOPS). Funded by the State of California since 1969 at all community college campuses, EOPS provides counseling, tutoring, financial assistance, and other services to ensure academic success for eligible low-income and educationally disadvantaged students.

The California Community Colleges is the largest higher educational system in the nation comprised of 72 districts and 109 colleges with more than 2.5 million students per year. Community colleges supply workforce training and basic skills education, prepare students for transfer to four-year institutions and offer opportunities for personal enrichment and lifelong learning. The System Office provides leadership, advocacy and support under the direction of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges.

ISP houses 4,872 minimum- and medium-custody male inmates. CVSP houses 4,151 medium- and low medium-custody male felons. More than 2,000 people are employed at the two correctional facilities.

On the web:

Palo Verde College

Ironwood State Prison

Chuckawalla Valley State Prison

California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Photos of Graduation

Friday, June 1, 2007

CDCR Resumes Temporary Out of State Inmate Transfers

Moves will reduce overcrowding and increase rehab space while new reforms are fully implemented.

In an effort to reduce severe overcrowding and increase space for rehabilitation programs, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) today resumed its transfer of inmates to private correctional facilities in other states.

This morning 38 inmates who volunteered for out of state transfers were bused to the Florence Detention Center near Phoenix, Arizona. The Florence Detention Center, operated by the Correctional Corporation of America (CCA), has housed 280 California inmates since last November. In addition to Florence, Arizona, CDCR has housed 76 inmates in the West Tennessee Detention Facility. The total number of California inmates now housed out of state is 394.

“Temporary out of state inmate transfers will provide immediate relief to California’s prison system, while the rest of the Governor’s comprehensive reforms are implemented,” said James Tilton, Secretary for Corrections and Rehabilitation. “Relieving overcrowding will improve the safety of our prisons both for inmates and staff. It will also give us breathing room to restore rehabilitation programs, reduce inmate population that will increase access to medical care, and ultimately protect public safety by reducing recidivism rates.”

The transfer of inmates out of state was begun in response to an Emergency Order issued by Governor Schwarzenegger in October 2006, but was halted in November while the state’s authority to move the inmates was challenged in lawsuits. In February 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 900, The Public Safety and Offender Rehabilitation Act of 2007, that clarified the authority of CDCR to temporarily transfer inmates to private facilities in other states.

It is expected that CDCR will process up to 400 inmates per month for transfer out of state over the next two years, and that approximately 8,000 inmates will be transferred by March 2009. Transfers will continue thereafter as needed, as AB 900 authorizes transfers until July 1, 2011.

Inmates transferred to out-of-state facilities undergo a comprehensive medical screening. Only those inmates who meet criteria established by the federal court appointed Receiver overseeing inmate medical care are eligible for transfer.

CDCR’s contract with CCA, headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, is for 4,056 beds and discussions with other private correctional companies are expected. CCA facilities in Tallahatchie, Mississippi and North Fork, Oklahoma are also likely to house California inmates.