Friday, June 27, 2008

De Witt Nelson Youth Correctional Facility Shutters Doors in Final Closing Ceremony

STOCKTON - Today, the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) De Witt Nelson Youth Correctional Facility near Stockton conducted a closing ceremony before more than 300 current and former employees, including members of the community. The facility had been in operation for 36 years.

The Dewitt facility opened in December 1971, with the focus primarily on vocational pursuits and an emphasis on pre-forestry training. In later years the facility moved away from a vocation mission and focused on specific treatment needs such as substance abuse treatment and anger management.

“While this experience is bittersweet, the closure of this facility has been known for some time and the staff here have been remarkably professional in the months leading up to today” Warner said. “It is extremely difficult to close this facility, but the reality we face with the DJJ is that we have a declining population and we have made a commitment to the courts on treatment for juveniles that remain with us.”

Recent declines in the DJJ population were hastened by recent legislation effective in September 2007, that is expected to reduce the existing DJJ population of 1,936 wards to around 1,500 wards. Effectively many offenders that would have previously been referred to the DJJ for less serious crimes will now remain with the county of commitment.

De Witt was the third facility at the Stockton complex to open, following the opening of the O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facility, and the Karl Holton Youth Correctional Facility (closed in 2003) in the late 1960s. Both the Close facility and the N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility remain open.

De Witt Superintendent Michael Minor thanked the remaining employees for their courage and honesty during the last six months following the January announcement that De Witt would close.

“Despite all the stress and uncertainly, De Witt Nelson employees have always strived to do their best to provide public safety and public service to this state and the surrounding community,” Minor said.

Following these remarks, the Preston Youth Correctional Facility Color Guard retired the two flags gracing the stage. The Heman G. Stark Youth Correctional Facility Color Guard took down the institution flag for the final flag folding and retirement ceremony. After, the final institution count was announced (no wards in the facility), the closing ceremony ended.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

More Than 2,400 CDCR Staff and Inmate Firefighters Deployed to Battle Wildfires Statewide

FAIRFIELD - Today, 2,237 California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) inmates supervised by 180 custody staff have been deployed to battle the Wild Fire in Solano and Napa counties, and other raging wildfires statewide.

"Inmate firefighting crews and the custody staff who supervise them are a critical component of the state's coordinated effort to battle wildfires and to respond to other emergencies," said CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate. "Right now, a total of 156 inmate firefighter crews from 42 conservation camps are assisting the state gain control of these devastating fires scattered primarily throughout Central and Northern California."

Since 1946, the Conservation Camp Program has provided California with a well-trained, well-equipped workforce for fire suppression. More than 4,400 male and female inmates participate in the program, which consist of approximately 200 fire crews. The crews respond 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.

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.

Only minimum-custody inmates may participate in the Conservation Camp 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 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 that will serve them well when they are released from prison," Cate added. "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."

For information on covering and interviewing CDCR staff and inmates in firefighting crews, contact:
Capt. Ray Harrington, (916) 956-6649
Lt. Rae Stewart, (707) 718-9173


NOTE: For high-resolution pictures and b-roll of inmate fire crews contact CDCR's press office at: 916-445-4950.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

CDCR Strategic Offender Management System Project will Automate and Streamline Information Sharing

Agency begins procurement of a project to consolidate more than 25 existing offender data systems

SACRAMENTO - The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) announced today the kick off of the procurement phase of a multimillion-dollar effort to automate and streamline offender data systems. The Strategic Offender Management System (SOMS) project will consolidate existing databases and records to provide a fully automated system and replace manual paper processes. This project will upgrade and standardize adult and juvenile data and population management practices enterprise-wide to further enhance staff, offender and public safety.

"This exciting initiative will revolutionize the process for sharing and utilizing offender data, and will significantly improve offender management processes. The project that we are launching will streamline the dozens of databases and record keeping mechanisms currently in place, and replace multiple existing inmate and parole systems with a single integrated solution," said Leisa Rackelmann, SOMS Project Director. "The system will include both adult and juvenile systems under CDCR's jurisdiction."

The SOMS project will consolidate more than 25 existing databases to create a more effective management system. This will enable program administrators, correctional counselors, officers, parole agents, and other staff to access information about an offender instantly, regardless of the offender's location within the system.

Combining database systems in youth facilities, prisons and parole regions will also lead to a higher level of continuity of rehabilitation and other programming for the offenders when they transition from custody into the community. Coordinating offender information, risk and needs assessments, case management plans, and other data into a streamlined system will allow custody and programs staff to manage the offender population better, and should help offenders to be more successful once they leave the system.

CDCR and the California Prison Healthcare Receivership (CPR) will partner and work collaboratively to procure and implement SOMS. The Request for Proposal (RFP) to select the overall solution and implementation vendor partner was released Wednesday, June 18, 2008 to initiate the procurement process. The procurement process is estimated to be completed in six to nine months.

A request for the RFP can be found at the following link:

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