CDCR

Photo by California Energy Commission

Arthur Streeter is taking me to meet an inmate who’s going to be released from jail today.

“So we’re going to pick him up and get something to eat,” Streeter tells me, “and then we’re going to go to an emergency shelter that he’ll stay at at International and East Oakland.”

He’s talking about Hayden Hindenburg, who’s been incarcerated at Santa Rita Jail for the last six months. Streeter is the program director for Operation My Hometown, and his job is to help Hindenburg get a good start outside prison walls.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Lawyers have an ethics code. Journalists have an ethics code. Architects do, too.

According to Ethical Standard 1.4 of the American Institute of Architects (AIA):  "Members should uphold human rights in all their professional endeavors." 

Kyung Jin Lee / KALW

On a breezy summer day at San Quentin State Prison, inmate Paul Stauffer reads his writing to a live audience.

“My shoulders brush the sides of the wall and bunk as I pace the nine feet of my cell, between the sink and door. A scream echoed silently from my tortured soul, as hopeless dreams of a once meaningful life, floated endlessly across my mind…” he reads.

Creative self expression is a proven force for change in prisons. Inmates in this creative writing class, and classes like it, are less likely to commit crimes when they’re released.

The deadly disease lies dormant during dry summers in Central California, but it comes alive when the rains arrive in fall. Causing flu-like symptoms, it goes airborne, with spores that root in the soft tissue of your lungs. Californians have a higher chance of contracting the disease than chickenpox, hepatitis, or West Nile virus, according to the health care news organization Reporting on Health. The fungal infection known as valley fever also has a preference for people of certain ethnic backgrounds. In the prisons of California's Central Valley, about 70 percent of the victims have been African-American.

California prison hunger strike continues

Jul 25, 2013

Tensions remain high in the California prison system. A hunger strike that started two and a half weeks ago is ongoing, with more than 700 inmates in ten state prisons still refusing to eat. The strikers are demanding reforms to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s policy of keeping inmates housed in security housing units indeterminately. Supporters say more than 3,000 inmates are currently stuck in there indefinitely – many have been in the SHU for decades – because there is no clear policy on how to get out.

California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation

For over a year, inmate Richard Gilliam has regularly sent us dispatches from prison as part of our Dispatches from the Inside series, to give us a lens into the prison infrastructure housing about 120,000 people in California. During this time, Gilliam has told us about the arbitrary nature of enforcement of the rules, race relations, and watching a cell mate wait too long for critical health care.

Nancy Mullane

This story was the first of a six-part series following Nancy Mullane in her efforts to increase media access to prisons. It first aired in October 2012. It begins seven hours north of San Francisco in Crescent City and Pelican Bay State Prison. That’s where more than 1,100 of the inmates considered the most dangerous and influential in the state are locked up in the state’s Security Housing Unit also known as the SHU.

CDCR responds to parole criticism

Mar 20, 2013

Last week, we aired a commentary by Richard Gilliam, who is an inmate at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo. We asked the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for a reply. Here’s what Public Information Officer Bill Sessa had to say.

It’s early. About 5 in the morning and I’m heading south on Highway 5 toward Corcoran, a farming town of about 24,000 people. However, that population count is misleading. About half of the people living in Corcoran are locked up in two of the state’s largest prisons just south of downtown.

Credit Credit California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation

Richard Gilliam is incarcerated at the California Men's Colony (CMC).

August 27, 2012

Cal Fire

It’s summer in California, which means fire season is in full force – and it could be the worst one in years. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, better known as CAL FIRE, responds to more than 5,000 wildfires each year. They protect more than 31 million acres of California’s privately-owned wildlands and provide emergency services for most of the state’s counties.

Thirty years ago, the state spent three percent of its general fund dollars on corrections and prisons. Today it spends more than 11 percent – that’s $10 billion running the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 

In 2011, when Governor Brown took office, he inherited a massive corrections problem. The state's 33 prisons were at nearly 200 percent capacity, and the recidivism rate was running at 70 percent. The federal courts stepped in and ordered California to reduce its overcrowded prisons by more than 30,000 people.

Michael Minor is chief deputy secretary of the Division of Juvenile Justice at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. It’s his job to help shape the future for this department that’s potentially on the budget chopping block. KALW’s Holly Kernan spoke with Minor about what the role of the Division of Juvenile Justice.