Monday, December 15, 2014

CDCR, CAL FIRE to Staff Ventura Fire Camp

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 more information, contact Bill Sessa, CDCR, at (916) 445-4950, or Dan Berlant, CAL FIRE, at (916) 651-3473.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Condemned inmate Michael Lee Elliot dies of unknown causes

SAN QUENTIN –Condemned inmate Michael Lee Elliot, 55, who was on California’s death row from Sacramento County, was pronounced dead yesterday, December 8, 2014, at 3:46 p.m., at a nearby hospital.  The cause of death is unknown pending the results of an autopsy.  Elliot was single-celled.

Elliot was sentenced to death on October 31, 1996, by a Sacramento County jury for the June 1, 1994, murder and attempted robbery of bartender Sherri Gandy, who was killed during the early morning hours at the Black Stallion bar in Orangevale. Elliot had been on death row since November 6, 1996.

Since 1978 when California reinstated capital punishment, 66 condemned inmates have died from natural causes, 23 have committed suicide, 13 have been executed in California, one was executed in Missouri, six have died from other causes and one is pending a cause of death. There are 749 people on California’s death row.

December 9, 2014    

(415) 455-5008


Pleasant Valley State Prison Correctional Officer Dies While on Duty

COALINGA – Correctional Officer Donald Daniel, 47, was pronounced deceased this morning at Coalinga Regional Medical Center.

Officer Daniel reported for duty at Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP) and informed his supervisor he was experiencing chest pains. An emergency medical response was initiated. He was transported to a local area hospital where he later died.

Officer Daniel, a 19-year veteran of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), is survived by his wife and two children.

“On behalf of the entire CDCR family, I want to extend my deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Officer Daniel as they mourn this tragic loss,” said CDCR Secretary Jeff Beard. “We have lost a dedicated member of our team today who was committed to protecting and serving the people of California.”

Officer Daniel began his career with CDCR on Nov. 11, 1995. After graduating from the Basic Correctional Officer Academy, he was assigned to PVSP on Dec. 25, 1995.

December 8, 2014   

CONTACT: Lt. Ryan Anderson
(559) 935-4972