Thursday, October 8, 2015

New Mental Health Facility Dedicated at Central California Women’s Facility

                 Female Inmates Training In Construction Trades Do Most of the Work
CHOWCHILLA---The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) today dedicated a state of the art building at the Central California Women’s Facility, largely constructed by female inmates training in the construction trades, to enhance mental health treatment for inmates.

The $5.1 million, 7,133 sq. ft. facility, which incorporates many features to conserve water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, will provide space for group and individual therapy sessions for up to 64 inmates at a time in addition to offices for administrative staff and clinicians.  The building, which received a CalGreen LEED rating from the U.S. Green Building Council, features low-flow toilets and other water-saving plumbing, and highly efficient, roof-mounted heating and air conditioning systems and skylights that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide more natural light that is beneficial to mental health treatment. 
The project was managed by CDCR’s Inmate Ward Labor Program and the on-site work was done primarily by 45 female inmates who are learning construction skills in a pre-apprentice program that will make them more employable when they are released on parole.  The dedication ceremony doubled as a graduation for many of the inmates, who completed 30 hours of classroom work and 40 hours a week of on-site training.  They received certificates of completion from Fresno Local 104 Sheet Metal Workers for Pre-Apprenticeship and certificates for their ability to operate forklifts, skid steers and scissor-lifts or for their knowledge of basic OSHA safety rules on construction sites.

“This facility demonstrates our commitment to meeting the mental health needs of all of our inmates, regardless of the level of care they need,” said Diana Toche, CDCR Undersecretary for Health Care Services, who presided over the building dedication.  “At the same time, by incorporating state of the art technology to conserve water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the building shows CDCR’s commitment to environmental stewardship.”

“This building is also the product of a rehabilitation program that gives inmates a chance to create a better life for themselves when they leave prison,” said Toche.  “The women who received certificates today, and those who will follow them, should be recognized for the courage it took to enroll in the pre-apprentice program and the dedication to see it through to the end.  We hope that every one of them will take the skills they learned on this project into a career that will sustain them and their families for many years.”

The building is the seventh and final project constructed by CDCR over the last five years to increase capacity for mental health treatment ranging from out-patient counseling to acute care that is required by the U.S. Federal court as part of the Coleman settlement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                       
October 9, 2015    
Contact: Bill Sessa
(916) 445-4950