Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Prison System Launches H1N1 Resource Page

Frequent Updates on Containment, Visitation and Public Health

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and California Prison Health Care Services (CPHCS) have launched a web page dedicated to keeping the public updated with the most current information related to the H1N1 virus in CDCR facilities, the status of visiting, and the Department’s efforts to curtail spread of the disease: http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/H1N1

The H1N1 resource page provides up-to-date information on how the disease impacts adult prisons, juvenile facilities, out-of-state contract facilities, community correctional facilities and conservation camps. The page includes links to health agencies, and prevention videos in English and in Spanish produced and distributed to CDCR offenders.

Since the detection of H1N1, CDCR has worked closely with the court appointed medical Receiver and state and local health departments to provide staff and inmates with information and resources to prevent and control infection, and avoid spread of the disease:

  • On May 3, the detection of a probable case of an inmate with the H1N1 virus at Centinela State Prison prompted CDCR and the Receiver to suspend all visiting and non-essential activities at prisons, youth facilities and contract facilities. This first probable case was confirmed on May 6.
  • Given the absence of suspected cases within juvenile facilities, all visiting restrictions at CDCR Division of Juvenile Justice facilities were lifted on May 8.
  • On May 11, a CDCR inmate housed in the Florence Correctional Center in Arizona was diagnosed with the H1N1 virus.
CDCR and the Receiver’s office are currently tracking a number of suspected cases and are awaiting test results. For the latest information, visit CDCR’s H1N1 Resources page regularly at: http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/H1N1

Friday, May 8, 2009

CDCR Youth Offender and Adult Inmate Firefighters Deployed to Jesusita Fire

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has deployed nearly 1,000 youth and adult offenders and department staff to help combat the wildfire that has burned hundreds of acres since May 5 in Santa Barbara County.

“The Conservation Camp Program helps offenders learn valuable skills, teamwork and discipline that will serve them well when they are released from prison,” said CDCR’s Secretary Matthew Cate. “The citizens of California benefit by having a fully trained workforce able to respond to fires, while saving more than $80 million every year that otherwise would be paid to accomplish the same tasks.”

In total, 67 youthful offenders between the ages of 18 and 25 were dispatched from Ventura Youth Correctional Facility in Ventura and Pine Grove Youth Conservation Center in Pine Grove. On Thursday, they cut fire lines and put out hot spots in areas that were already burned by the Jesusita Fire. The DJJ fire crews joined nearly 930 adult inmate crews and department staff already dispatched to Santa Barbara County.

Since 1946, CDCR’s Conservation Camp Program has provided California with a well-trained, well-equipped workforce for fire suppression. More than 4,400 male and female inmates (200 fire crews) participate in the program annually. The crews respond to nearly every type of emergency, including wildfires, floods, search and rescue operations and earthquakes. They also log millions of hours annually on fire reduction and conservation projects and provide forest, range and watershed enhancement on public lands.

“Fighting fires is one of the most elite assignments in the Division of Juvenile Justice,” said Bernard Warner, Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Chief Deputy Secretary. “These youths face the same risks and danger as everyone else on the fire line, but they come away with a sense of contribution to the community that’s critical to their rehabilitation.”

CDCR jointly manages 39 adult and juvenile camps with CAL FIRE and five adult camps with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Only minimum-custody inmates may participate in the program. They must be physically fit and have no history of a violent crime, including kidnapping, sex offenses, arson or escape. Juvenile offenders earn their way into camp placement and must be free of major rules infractions. Offenders convicted of sex offenses or arson are excluded.


CDCR Division of Adult Institutions Conservation Camp Program deployed 1,216 inmate firefighters (82 crews) supervised by 92 CDCR staff.

Pine Grove Youth Conservation Center (Pine Grove) deployed 60 youths (4 crews) supervised by 6 CDCR staff.

Ventura Youth Correctional Facility (Camarillo) deployed 38 youth offenders (3 crews) supervised by 3 CDCR staff.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

First CA Inmate H1N1 Influenza Case Confirmed

More Inmate Cases Now Being Tested

SACRAMENTO - The State Viral Lab is reporting that the inmate case at Centinela State Prison that had been categorized as 95% probable has now been confirmed. The inmate remains in Centinela Prison. His case remains mild. The infected inmate’s cellmate remains under quarantine but has not exhibited any symptoms of H1N1 Influenza. The actions taken by California Prison Health Care Services (CPHCS) and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) appear to have stemmed the spread of the virus at Centinela Prison. No other potential cases have been reported there.

However, the receiver’s office is currently monitoring numerous other potential cases throughout the system that have been sent for testing. More detail on those cases will be available once they are deemed probable or are confirmed. Due to the new potential cases, the visiting restrictions will continue in effect until further notice.

“We fully understand that this decision has unfortunate consequences for the families of the inmates and the inmates themselves, especially over the Mother’s Day weekend, but we must protect the general public, the staff and the inmates from a further spread of the H1N1 Influenza, especially in light of the other potential cases.” said Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Dwight Winslow.

For more information and for updates, visit the CDCR web site at www.cdcr.ca.gov or medical receiver’s web site at www.cphcs.ca.gov.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Prison System Diagnoses First Probable Case of Swine Flu (H1N1) Virus

Medical Receiver Calls for Halt to Visiting and Non-Essential Activities

SACRAMENTO - An inmate at Centinela State Prison in Imperial County has been diagnosed with a probable case of the H1N1 virus, commonly referred to as Swine Flu. This is the first probable case within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). In response, CDCR and the court appointed Receiver over inmate medical care are taking all appropriate precautions to protect public health.

"The single probable case of H1N1 Influenza is mild and the infected inmate and his cell mate are confined to an appropriate setting and receiving appropriate care within Centinela State Prison," said Dr. Steven Ritter, California Prison Health Care Services Acting Chief Physician Executive. "We are closing visitation and non-essential activities at all of our institutions statewide as a precautionary measure according to our established protocol to protect the public, the staff, and the inmates. The continued well-being of the staff and inmates is essential in order to contain any further potential outbreaks and avoid additional exposure to the public at-large."

Effective today, CDCR has stopped all visiting and other non-essential activities including volunteer activities, special events, and other non-staff related inmate and youth programs at prisons, youth facilities, and community correctional facilities. Critical and legally mandated activities, such as attorney visits, medical and psychological evaluations, contract services such as Substance Abuse Programs, and court ordered social worker and other visits, will continue with added precautions.

"The Department takes the threat of a Swine Flu influenza outbreak very seriously, and is taking all precautions to limit possibilities of exposure and prevent any spread of the virus. The health and safety of the inmates in our care and the staff members who provide for their custody is our primary concern," said Scott Kernan, CDCR Undersecretary of Operations. "We have comprehensive plans in place to respond to natural disasters, pandemics, or any other issues that may arise. In anticipation of a confirmed case of Swine Flu, CDCR activated its Department Operations Center at Headquarters last week to ensure that all institutions are on stand by and prepared to respond."

CDCR has approximately 68,000 employees and oversees nearly 170,000 adult inmates and youth offenders. The Department has taken numerous steps to protect public health by posting and distributing information to educate inmates and staff on proven practices to stop the spread of this communicable viral infection. CDCR is working closely with state Department of Public Health, and local health departments, to curtail the spread of this virus.

Friday, May 1, 2009