Thursday, April 23, 2015

Condemned inmate Raymond Edward Steele dies of unknown causes

SAN QUENTIN – Condemned inmate Raymond Edward Steele, 67, who was on California’s death row from Shasta County, was found unresponsive in his cell Wednesday evening, April 22, 2015, at San Quentin State Prison. He was pronounced dead at 7:37 p.m. at the prison. The cause of death is unknown pending the results of an autopsy. Steele was single-celled.
 Steele was sentenced to death on July 24, 1990, by a Shasta County jury for the Aug. 5, 1988, murder by stabbing of Leann Thurman, who was under conservatorship as a result of brain damage suffered at birth. A convicted sex offender and murderer, Steele had been previously convicted in 1971 of the rape of a victim who lived next door to his aunt, and the second-degree murder of his 15-year-old babysitter, who had been stabbed eight times. Steele had been on death row since July 31, 1990.

Since 1978 when California reinstated capital punishment, 66 condemned inmates have died from natural causes, 24 have committed suicide, 13 have been executed in California, one was executed in Missouri, seven have died from other causes and two inmates’ causes of death are pending. There are 753 people on California’s death row.

April 23, 2015   

CONTACT: Lt. Sam Robinson
(415) 455-5008


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

CDCR Investigating Deadly Force Incident at Kern Valley State Prison

DELANO – Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) administrators are investigating the death of an inmate who was fatally shot while he attacked another inmate.

At approximately 10:15 a.m., two inmates attacked another inmate who fell to the ground and lost consciousness. The assailants continued to attack the inmate who was unable to defend himself.

A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) correctional officer discharged one warning shot from the Mini 14 rifle to stop the attack, but the assailants continued to assault the inmate. After the warning, the officer discharged another shot from the Mini 14 rifle.

One of the assailants suffered a gunshot wound and was airlifted from KVSP and taken to an area hospital where he was later pronounced deceased.

The victim of the attack is being transported to an outside hospital to be treated for head trauma. There are no reports of injuries to staff.

“The use of deadly force is always a last resort,” said CDCR spokesperson Dana Simas. “The loss of any life is unfortunate and, as is the case for all in-custody deaths, this death will be thoroughly investigated.”

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) sent a Deadly Force Investigations Team (DFIT) to KVSP to investigate the incident. DFIT is a team of trained CDCR investigators that conducts criminal and administrative investigations into every use of deadly force. A deadly force review board will conduct a full and complete review of the incident as well.

Pursuant to state law, deadly force can only be used when it is reasonably necessary to defend someone from an immediate threat of death or great bodily injury.

The Office of the Inspector General was also notified and will provide real-time oversight of CDCR’s investigation of its staff.

KVSP opened in 2005 and houses 3,782 inmates of all security levels. KVSP offers academic classes and vocational programs and employs approximately 1,800 people.

For more information about KVSP, visit CDCR’s website at

April 22, 2015
Contact: Dana Simas
(916) 445-4950

Shots Fired into North Kern State Prison; Officer Injured

DELANO – A North Kern State Prison correctional officer is recovering after being struck by gunfire from outside the prison.

At about 7:30 p.m. on April 20, shots were fired from an unknown location outside the secure perimeter and into the Facility A yard. A bullet struck one correctional officer and penetrated his stab-resistant vest. He was taken to an outside hospital where he was treated and released for minor injuries.

“I am extremely grateful that our officer was only slightly injured in this senseless attack and is expected to make a full recovery. I send my thoughts and prayers to him, his family and his co-workers,” California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Jeff Beard said.  “Our officers are dedicated to protecting public safety and it is disturbing they are targeted in this way.”

The California Highway Patrol, the Delano Police Department and the Kern County Sheriff’s Office are on scene and have started investigating this incident and searching for a suspect. All inmates and staff are accounted for.

“I thank the Kern County Sheriff’s Department, the Delano Police Department and the CHP for their help in this investigation and I am hopeful we can capture those responsible for this attack before they can cause more harm,” Secretary Beard said.

North Kern State Prison opened in 1993 and houses approximately 4,300 minimum-, medium- and maximum-custody inmates. The prison, located in Kern County, provides educational, medical and mental health services and employs more than 1,300 people.


April 20, 2015

CONTACT: Lt. Tom Mattson

(661) 721-2345, ext. 5006