Thursday, October 28, 2004

LOCAL PRISON, COLLEGE COLLABORATE TO ENHANCE EDUCATION PROGRAMS FOR INMATES

College Credit, Certificate Program Offered in Landscape Maintenance

California State Prison, Los Angeles County (LAC) is collaborating with the Antelope Valley Fair & Alfalfa Festival and Antelope Valley College in offering a college-level program for inmates who participate in outside work crews at the fairgrounds. Crewmembers will be offered the opportunity to earn a certificate in Landscape Maintenance taught by an agricultural instructor from the college.

“Each inmate would receive 12 units of college credit and a certificate at the end of the course,” said Thomas Miguel, Supervisor of LAC’s Correctional Education Programs. “It is also possible that the curriculum could be expanded to include certificates and/or college units for welding, electrical, forklift operations, janitorial, tractor operations, plumbing, concrete, and event set-up.”

The 50th District Agricultural District (DAA) has contracted with the prison for several years for an outside work crew. The workforce has become an integral part of the organization, especially since a new facility is under construction.

“Several inmates have taken special pride in the work they have accomplished over the last eight months,” said Dan Jacobs, Fair District Manager. “They have taken part in a number of projects that have encompassed landscaping, fencing, and electrical, to name a few.”

Antelope Valley College will provide the instructor as well as college credits. The DAA will provide the facility, materials, equipment and staff to conduct classes and projects. The prison will provide the inmate work crews and correctional officers.

“This collaborative effort is a wonderful opportunity for these inmates,” said Warden Charles Harrison, “and I am sure that the training they receive will improve their successes once they are released back to their communities.”

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

CALIFORNIA MEDICAL FACILITY (CMF) HONORED IN DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION ADULT LITERACY AWARD

CMF, VACAVILLE ONE OF THREE PROGRAMS IN ENTIRE STATE TO PLACE FROM FIELD OF 246 NOMINEES

For many inmates with developmental disabilities the California Medical Facility (CMF) in Vacaville, is simply another stop in a very difficult life -- but thanks to the hard work of some very dedicated staff at that institution, it can also be the first real opportunity they have to turn their lives around.

In September, staff at CMF in Vacaville was awarded the prestigious “Programs of Excellence” designation as one of the best adult literacy programs in the state for an innovative system that assists developmentally disabled inmates in learning to read.

Called the Disabled Placement Program, the CMF curriculum provides individualized instruction and accommodation to inmates with physical disabilities by offering instruction in American Sign Language, Braille and the use of assistive technology to overcome barriers. To date hundreds of inmates have graduated from the program since it began in 1999.

“This recognition is a result of hard work, not only by the teacher who works with the inmates, but also for the inmates who work so hard to learn these essential life skills,” CMF Warden Theresa A. Schwartz said. “Specifically, I would like to acknowledge the commitment and dedication of instructor Dave Hudson, who literally put his heart and soul into making the program the success it has become.”

Hudson leads a team of five adjunct inmate teacher aides who work with the approximately 100 inmates currently enrolled in the program. According to CMF Education Administrator Carolyn Gueffroy, Hudson immersed himself in the subject matter – becoming conversant in both American Sign Language and Braille before initiating this program in March 1999.

Hudson said the program started small, but as the need was identified, he saw enrollment balloon to the present number. Instructors and students alike use computers, reading machines, and special software that can scan text and read it aloud via computer-generated voicing to assist in learning to read.

“This is the great thing about the program, we have seen inmates like Sam Windham learn to read Braille,” Hudson said. “His life was just changed massively by his participation in the program. He is now an instructor and he passes that on to the students he teaches. They (the inmates) really believe in this program and are passionate about it.”

“The designation of Programs of Excellence is a great honor,” said Mary Ann Corley, Director of the California Adult Literacy Professional Development Project (CALPRO). “It says that behind the designation, there stands an exemplary program that provides outstanding services to adult learners.”

CALPRO manages the Programs of Excellence review and award process, on behalf of the California Department of Education. CMF was one of three programs statewide out of 246 applicants who vied for the Programs of Excellence honor. The other recipients were Foothills Adult Education Center within the Grossmont Union High School District (El Cajon), and Santa Clara Adult Education Center.

Friday, October 15, 2004

INMATE FIREFIGHTERS DEPLOYED TO FIRE LINES

WORKING SIDE-BY-SIDE WITH OTHERS IN FIGHTING FIRES THROUGHOUT CALIFORNIA

As fires rage throughout California, between 1,500 and 3,000 California Department of Corrections (CDC) inmate firefighters are out on fire lines, fighting side-by-side with firefighters from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (CDF) and Los Angeles County Fire Department. They are currently fighting fires in El Dorado, Yolo, Lassen, Lake, Nevada, Mariposa, Calaveras, Amador, Santa Cruz and Kern Counties—but that list grows daily as the month wears on.

“As they pay their debt to society, camp inmates provide a real economic benefit to the local communities and to the state,” said Camps Liaison Capt. John Peck. “In a typical year, they will work two million hours on firefighting and fire prevention. They will also spend about six million hours on conservation projects and community service activities.”

More than 4,000 men and women inmates live and work in conservation camps located in some of the state’s most secluded wilderness areas. They provide a large force of trained crews for wild land fire fighting, resource conservation, and emergency assignments.

CDC operates 38 conservation camps jointly with CDF or with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Assignment to a conservation camp is a hard-won privilege. Inmates are screened carefully using a sophisticated system to identify and weigh personal aspects of their background to determine potential for camp placement. To qualify, they must be minimum security risks, physically fit, and have no history of violent crime. The average sentence for inmates selected for camp is two years, and the average time they spend in camp is eight months.

After being accepted for camp, inmates undergo a vigorous two-week physical fitness-training program, and are then schooled for another two weeks in fire safety and suppression techniques.

“When fires ravaged southern California last year, CDC inmate firefighters were out there in force, saving lives, homes and other property,” said Peck. “They provide a strong, organized work force while developing or improving social habits and work ethics. They will continue to be a valuable part of California’s firefighting efforts, as they have for nearly 60 years.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

California Department of Corrections (CDC) Health Care Management System Online Pharmacy Project Implementation Celebration

WHAT:

California Department of Corrections (CDC) Health Care Management System Online Pharmacy Project Implementation Celebration

WHEN:

Thursday, October 14, 2004, 9 a.m. – noon

WHERE:

California Medical Facility, 1600 California Drive, Vacaville

WHO:

Youth and Adult Correctional Agency Secretary Rod Hickman and Undersecretary Kevin Carruth

BACKGROUND

CDC is replacing its pharmacy management system. Phase I is a “proof of concept” that updates its pharmacy system operations in real time, thus creating an online pharmacy. The celebration will acknowledge and thank CDC staff who have worked to get Phase I of this project up and running. It will provide clinical management tools for clinical staff and administrative managers. It will connect transitional case management tools in real time for Parole staff allowing for continuity of prescribed mental health-related medication for inmates as they parole.