Thursday, December 18, 2008

26 Graduate from First Year of "Restoring Youth and Communities" Project

SACRAMENTO - AmeriCorps and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) are celebrating a successful collaboration today that has encouraged mentoring and volunteerism among youthful offenders. For the last year AmeriCorps members, many of whom are former offenders themselves, have been acting as "service learning coaches" for wards and parolees under the supervision of the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) as part of a project called "Restoring Youth and Communities." Through this partnership, CDCR and AmeriCorps members are mentoring youthful offenders and engaging them in meaningful service-learning projects that benefit their home communities.

At a ceremony today, 26 AmeriCorps participants in the "Restoring Youth and Communities" project completed their first year of service, and became the program's first group of graduates. Of these individuals, 12 plan to "re-up" for another year to continue working with DJJ youth in facilities and on parole. More than 270 candidates are vying for 34 vacant slots in the project for 2009.

"These individuals have not only changed their own lives, but are using their personal experiences to make a difference in the lives of others and to improve their home communities," said CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate, who participated in the ceremony. "By engaging at risk youth early on in these types of service projects, we are not only improving their lives today, but giving them hope for the future."

The graduates completed up to 1,700 hours of public service over the last 11 months, mentoring DJJ youth both in institutions and on parole in the community. AmeriCorps members in the project work full time as "service-learning coaches," helping DJJ youth identify and learn about issues such as drug abuse, youth violence, and education, and recruiting and connecting these youth with community based organizations and opportunities.

AmeriCorps members receive a living allowance, health and child care benefits, and an educational award upon completion of service. AmeriCorps is sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service, and a $532,965 annual grant administered by California Volunteers. DJJ has matched that amount with funding of $695,500 per year. Participants are paid a stipend of $20,000, not including some education benefits, to participate in the 11 month program. Year to year funding is predicated on performance measures.

Bernard Warner, Chief Deputy Secretary of the Division of Juvenile Justice, said that DJJ's participation with this program has been extremely rewarding and that former parolees have shared compelling stories of personal growth and showed evidence of making a difference with their individual efforts.

"The AmeriCorps members have been integral to our reform efforts at DJJ," Warner said. "Their energy, dedication, and new ideas have not only helped to rehabilitate the young people with whom they have worked but also to revitalize our mission."

CDCR and AmeriCorps kicked off the partnership in February 2008. Many of this year's graduates are former parolees who successfully discharged. Other participants included young adults who had been at risk, as well as a select few individuals who were studying criminal justice at various state universities and colleges. The common thread is that these individuals were interested in exploring careers in juvenile justice while helping DJJ youth in facilities and on parole make positive changes in their home communities.

"Parole is often a difficult time of transition as offenders work to re-establish themselves in their communities," said Juvenile Parole Board Executive Director Chuck Supple. "Many AmeriCorps members have already been there, and know more than anyone else the kind of help parolees need. It is this unique perspective that allows them to reach out and help guide former offenders toward a more constructive and successful life."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

CDCR Begins Implementation of Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008

SACRAMENTO — The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) began this week implementing newly enacted provisions of the Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008 that expand crime victims’ rights and change life prisoner parole suitability hearings. CDCR has also launched a new webpage for victim disclosures related to the new law. Also known as “Marsy’s Law,” Proposition 9 was passed by voters on Nov. 4, 2008 and certified by the Secretary of State on Dec. 13, 2008.

Victims’ Rights
“Marsy’s Law amended California’s Constitution to give victims additional rights of notice and allow for greater participation in various components of the criminal justice system,” said Sandi Menefee, Assistant Secretary of CDCR’s Office of Victim and Survivor Rights of Services (OVSRS). “CDCR has a long history of ensuring victims are notified of their rights, given opportunities to provide input into special conditions of parole, and given notification for parole consideration hearings. Our agency is also responsible for ensuring that direct orders for restitution are collected for victims.”

Marsy’s Law impacts the timeframes for notices to victims and victims’ next of kin. Since the passage of Proposition 9 on November 4, OVSRS has worked cooperatively with every division within the CDCR affected by the passage of the new law in order to ensure staff would be ready to implement these provisions as soon as the proposition was certified.

“We are ready to embrace the new changes,” Menefee said.

Lifer Parole Suitability Hearings

Marsy’s Law also fundamentally alters life prisoner parole suitability hearings and expands victims’ rights in parole proceedings for offenders sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.

“Parole commissioners have been trained on the new provisions of Marsy’s Law and beginning December 15, all lifer hearings are subject to the new law,” said Martin Hoshino, Executive Officer of the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH). “We have also been communicating with our deputy commissioners and BPH staff at the state’s adult institutions at every public, private and working meeting since voters approved the proposition to inform them of these changes.”

Parole Revocation Hearings

Proposition 9 also changed timelines and procedures for parole revocation hearings. However, on December 5, Judge Lawrence K. Karlton with the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, ordered those portions not be implemented in response to a motion filed by plaintiffs in the Valdivia v. Schwarzenegger class action lawsuit, which had previously challenged the constitutionality of parole revocation proceedings. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for March 9, 2009.

Provisions of the Victims Bill of Rights Act of 2008
In addition to the above mentioned changes, Marsy’s Law:

  • Expands the definition of a victim;
  • Expands the scope of persons allowed to act as victim representatives at parole hearings;
  • Allows victims to attend lifer parole hearings without being asked questions by the prisoner or the prisoner’s attorney;
  • Requires the BPH, when setting a date for a parole grant, give meaningful consideration to whether the inmate should be released to parole;
  • Increases the length of denials from 1-5 year denials to 3-, 5-, 7-, 10-, or 15-year denials;
  • Requires that the BPH give registered victims and victims’ next of kin 90 days notice of all parole proceedings or other post-conviction release proceedings, rather than 30 days;
  • Allows the victim, next of kin, members of the victim’s family (not just the immediate family) and two representatives to appear personally to express their views about a prisoner and the case;
  • Requires a web page for victim disclosures related to the new law. Information about the Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008: CDCR’s “Marsy’s Law” site can be found at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Divisions_Boards/BOPH/marsys_law.html. The website also has information on how to register as a victim of crime in order to receive notice of future parole consideration hearings, how to request a hearing transcript, and how to contact CDCR’s Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services.
To view New Marsy's Law page

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Inmates Contribute $131,000 to Local Crime Victims

To read this article Click Here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

CDCR Employees and Inmate Holiday Activities to Benefit Less Fortunate, Underserved

SACRAMENTO – Today, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) announced its annual calendar of holiday community benefit activities, organized by hundreds of CDCR employees statewide.

More than 44 activities and events will help to feed, clothe, or bring toys to needy families and children statewide. Food and donations to purchase food will feed hundreds as the holidays approach and cold weather sets in.

“Our employees have really stepped up to help local communities and needy families this year,” said CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate. “The holiday, charitable events and fundraisers underway by staff and inmates at institutions and field offices across California will help to brighten the holidays for those less fortunate,” he continued.
Some holiday activities involve work offenders who have spent months creating crafts or rebuilding bicycles. In Sacramento, a group of juvenile offenders from Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp helped decorate the historic Governor’s Mansion in Sacramento for the holidays.

“The generosity and good will shown by our staff is impressive,” said Cate. “Because of their efforts, a few hundred more children will have a shiny bicycle, and others got to eat a warm Thanksgiving meal. We feel we are making a difference in our communities.”

CDCR oversees 33 adult state prisons ranging from minimum to maximum-custody, 44 conservation camps, 12 community correctional facilities and six facilities designed for inmate mothers and their children. For offenders released to parole, four parole regions oversee 190 parole units and sub-units in 84 separate locations. CDCR also oversees five facilities for juvenile offenders and regional parole offices for youths on parole. Nearly 67,000 employees oversee more than 317,000 offenders in institutions and on parole.

CDCR Holiday Activities 2008 Fact Sheet

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New Partnership Provides Youthful Offenders with Job Skills and Keeps Manufacturing and Revenues in California

CHINO - Youthful offenders in Chino will receive valuable job training in manufacturing, and California will keep jobs and tax revenues in the state, under a new partnership announced today by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's (CDCR) Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). The Heman G. Stark Youth Correctional Facility is welcoming Rampone Industries to open a new manufacturing facility on its grounds that will employ youthful offenders and provide vocational training as part of the Free Venture Program managed by the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA).

Under CDCR's Free Venture Program, Rampone Industries will set up and operate its business within the confines of the correctional facility and hire motivated wards as its employees. The business will pay these wards comparable wages while providing much needed job skills.

Rampone Industries manufactures store displays and fixtures for numerous well known nationwide stores. CEO Horacio Rampone decided to open this facility rather than expand manufacturing overseas.

"We decided that a partnership with the Division of Juvenile Justice provided an excellent opportunity to benefit California and the young men inside these facilities. It just makes sense," CEO Horacio Rampone said. "The program is a win-win situation. The State of California, the community, the wards, and our company all benefit. The young men come out of this facility with hope, a future, and a positive direction."

Rampone Industries initially intends to employ 10 to 20 workers, but has plans to offer many more jobs in the long term. Juvenile offenders will be working in a variety of positions including shipping and receiving, metal, wood and acrylic manufacturing, finish work and painting.

"Free Venture programs offer incredible benefits by providing these young men with real world job skills," DJJ Chief Deputy Secretary Bernard Warner added. "Our main objective is to get these young men back to the community to be productive workers leading crime free lives."

Free Venture is a partnership between correctional facilities and private businesses that operate inside prison walls while hiring inmates and wards. The program provides compensation to the victims of crime by deducting a portion of the ward's pay.

CALPIA will partner with Rampone Industries to ensure offenders' skills are documented to assist in their transition to employment upon release. Currently, there are two Free Venture programs within the DJJ system with 24 youth employed.