Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Statewide Law Enforcement Access to “Real Time” CDCR Parolee Data Now Available

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
George Kostyrko (916) 445-4950

State, Local Partnership Improves Web-Based Tool

SACRAMENTO – Working with local law enforcement, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) today launched version 2.0 of its online parolee database that provides police and sheriff’s deputies faster and more thorough access to offender information, including photos and criminal background.

“The delivery of timely and accurate information is always key in developing positive partnerships and assists all law enforcement agencies to protect public safety,” said CDCR Secretary Matthew L. Cate. “This new LEADS system developed by CDCR parole will provide local law enforcement with detailed information about parolees in their communities.”

“I want to personally thank all participating local law enforcement agencies in working with us to better protect the public by helping to improve this tool to be more precise and user-friendly.”

The enhanced tool, called the Parole Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS 2.0), was developed in partnership by the CDCR Division of Adult Parole Operations and Enterprise Information Services, and features a number of improvements including easier navigation, similar to an e-commerce website.

It provides instant information including photos on more than 109,000 active parolees, is accessible via desktop, or a patrol vehicle, and is expected to be available on mobile devices like smart phones. The database also keeps records on inmates in pre-parole programs, as well as parolees who are at-large, have had revoked parole, have been deported and are in Non Revocable Parole (NRP), for a total of 207,000 records.

“Like an e-commerce website, LEADS 2.0 has the ability to dig deep into a real time database and perform search functions that allows law enforcement agencies to validate the identity of individuals they have stopped, using specifics like a tattoo, physical descriptors, and other information, DAPO Director Robert Ambroselli explained. Additionally, all Non-Revocable Parole information is stored and disseminated to our law enforcement partners on this site as well.

“It’s vitally important that CDCR provide as much timely information to assist local law enforcement and protect public safety,” said Ambroselli. “The improvements give local police departments and patrol officers access to the same kind of information as CDCR Parole Agents use. “

While earlier versions of the LEADS system have been in use since the late 1990s, this version is vastly superior and is designed to allow law enforcement to quickly find specific parolee information and can accommodate several thousand concurrent users checking out tips on individuals or run a background check of someone an officer believes may be a parolee.

Anaheim Police Chief John Welter, who oversees a department of 600 staff and sworn officers said he appreciates the opportunity to work with CDCR to improve the database and make it more user friendly. He said his department will continue to make suggestions to ensure continued improvement.

“As a department, we are looking forward to Parole LEADS 2.0 coming fully online so the benefits of this new system will be available to all of our officers and investigations personnel,” Chief Welter said. “The new system will be a valuable tool we will use to assist us in preventing crime, apprehending criminals and keeping our community safe.”

A variety of features set this apart from prior versions of this tool. Individual log-on users have the ability to save Parolee Searches (lists generated by user preferences of parolees such as: those they have made contact with, parolees with sex offender registration requirements in their city or county, and/or specific characteristics identified by a victim or witness, such as height, weight, hair/eye color, tattoos, etc.).

During trials, more than 95 percent of the suggestions for improvement by local law enforcement were adopted to make it easier to use.

The information in the LEADS 2.0 system is updated every 15 minutes, and has search functions that allow partner law enforcement agencies to find real time information on the status of a parolee they have made contact with, including Non Revocable Parole (NRP) status, PC 290 registration (including any field notes on an individual), and potentially any available victim contact information.

It is available to law enforcement 24 hours a day, seven days a week (excluding any scheduled maintenance times) and provides several layers of security to ensure that only law enforcement individuals can log on and have access to the information. Like a website, this application uses premium Google Earth mapping technology to assist law enforcement in finding residences of parolees.

“The successful implementation of Parole LEADS 2.0 moves the Department forward in it’s efforts to use information technology to modernize business operations and improve public safety,” said Joe Panora, CDCR Agency Chief Information Officer.

Three jurisdictions, the City of Anaheim Police Department, Citrus Heights Police Department and the Folsom Police Department participated in a one-month pilot program of the new system to make sure the system was fully tested in a production environment, offered the kind of flexibility, mobility and tools that local law enforcement would need if they encountered a parolee.

Citrus Heights Police Department manager Sandy Maraviov, who has 12 years experience working with law enforcement databases, said the LEADS 2.0 system is easy to learn, and really can assist both the street cop as well as the seasoned investigator crunch through a number of tips they receive very quickly, if they suspect a parolee might be involved in an investigation.

“I will be honest with you, one really doesn’t need much in the way of training to use this effectively,” Maraviov said. “It is probably one of the most user-friendly systems I have ever encountered in law enforcement. I don’t get impressed easily. However this really delivers.”

Future plans include making this same information accessible by law enforcement individuals via mobile devices like iPhones, Blackberry PDAs as well as other smart phone technology.

For more information on CDCR Parole and the LEADS policies visit the CDCR Parole Website

VIEW LEADS 2.0 FACT SHEET

go to: http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Parole/Non_Revocable_Parole/Law_Enforcement_Resources.html

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

HIgh Rock Conservation Camp Escapee Apprehended

Weott, California – Prison Inmate Markus Newsome a minimum security inmate who escaped from High Rock Conservation Camp CC#32 was apprehended this evening by Corrections Agents and local law enforcement officials near the area of the camp in Humboldt County.

Inmate Newsome had escaped from High Rock Conservation Camp CC#32 earlier this morning around 1030 am.

At approximately 715 this evening the escapee was captured, arrested and taken into custody. He was medically cleared and booked without incident into the Humboldt County Jail. This matter will be referred to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hundreds of Children Visit Incarcerated Dads for Father's Day at Annual 'Get On The Bus' event

Contact:
Gordon Hinkle
(916) 445-4950
Peggy Bengs
(916) 261-2282

SACRAMENTO - The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the Center for Restorative Justice Works (CRJW) are again bringing together hundreds of children to visit their incarcerated fathers to celebrate Father’s Day during the Annual Get On The Bus event.

Today, hundreds of children and their caregivers will travel from major cities across California to one of three male institutions: Correctional Training Facility (CTF) and Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) in Soledad and California State Prison, Solano.

The buses arrive between 8 and 10 a.m. to accommodate the greatest number of visitors in visiting rooms with limited space.

"Get On The Bus brings incarcerated fathers and their children together for a memorable visit,” said CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate. "A strong bond between a father and his family helps that inmate succeed upon release and shows children how important they are in their parent’s life.”

Approximately 200,000 children in California have an incarcerated parent and live with relatives or in foster care, according to CDCR.

"Seldom do people ask, ‘What about the children?’” said Get On The Bus Executive Director, Sister Suzanne Jabro. “These are the hidden victims of crime and punishment.”

For the first time, youth members of Project WHAT!, a program that raises awareness about the effects of parental incarceration on children, are sponsoring a bus so that other children will have the opportunity to visit their parents. Project WHAT!, a program of the Berkeley-based nonprofit, Community Works, is comprised of youth ages 15-20, all of whom have or have had a parent in prison or jail.

In addition, Get On The Bus has launched two pilot projects to bring children for the first time to California State Prison, Solano and Salinas Valley State Prison.

Get On The Bus provides children and their caregivers with travel bags for the children, comfort care bags for the caregivers, a photograph of each child with his or her father, and meals for the day. The meals include breakfast, snacks on the bus, lunch at the prison and dinner on the way home. On the bus trip home following the visit with the fathers, each child will receive a teddy bear with a letter from his or her father as well as post-event counseling. The program is funded by donations from churches, schools, family foundations, grants and other organizations.

"A child needs to see and know their father is safe and to know they are loved,” added Sister Suzanne.

Get On The Bus reunited children with their fathers at California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo on June 5 and June 12, 2010. It also brought children to visit their mothers on May 7, 2010 for Mother's Day at three California women’s institutions.

To view photos of the June 12 event at California Men’s Colony, visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/37381942@N04/sets/72157624191882144/ .

###

Friday, June 18, 2010

Juvenile Offenders Celebrate Academic Achievement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 18, 2010

Contact:
Bill Sessa (916) 205-9193
Victor Zapien (209) 944-6139

52 Youth Receive High School Diplomas, GED’s In Stockton

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) announced today that 52 juvenile offenders between the ages of 18 and 25 reached a significant milestone in their efforts to turn their lives around by receiving either a high school diploma or GED certificate. The youth were honored at a graduation ceremony today in the N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton, and were joined by 16 youths under the age of 18 who graduated from the O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facility last Friday.

“A high school education is a strong foundation for building a successful life when youthful offenders return to the community,” said Bernard Warner, Chief Deputy Secretary of CDCR’s Division of Juvenile Justice. “This ‘rehabilitation through education’ provides intellectual and life skills that will open doors for these youth and will help them reverse the cycle of revolving in and out of incarceration. That reduces recidivism and improves public safety.”

The graduation day also was an opportunity for the youth to share their successes with family members, many of whom attended a luncheon prior to the afternoon ceremonies.

One factor that distinguishes the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) from the adult prison system is its network of accredited high schools that provide students with the same education they would receive in their communities, including special education. Those standards ensure that juvenile offenders are in classrooms for the state-mandated 240 minutes a day for 210 days a year. The N.A. Chaderjian High School recently had its accreditation renewed by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

Since March, 2005 when DJJ adopted a remedial plan for education, approximately 5,200 youth have achieved some level of academic performance, from high school diplomas or GED’s to enrollment in vocational education, continuing education classes or college courses. In addition, last year 283 youth, 50 percent of those who were eligible, enrolled in college courses, taking advantage of long distance classes offered by Coastline College.

For more on the Division of Juvenile Justice, visit the CDCR DJJ web site at www.cdcr.ca.gov/Juvenile_Justice/index.html.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

CDCR Breaks Ground on Second AB 900 Construction Project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 17, 2010

Contact:
Paul Verke
(916) 445-4950

California Institution for Women in Chino to Receive a 45-Bed Acute/Intermediate Care Mental Health Facility

CHINO – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) broke ground on its second mental health facility this week. The project, a 45-bed acute/intermediate care mental health facility serving female inmates at California Institution for Women in Chino (CIW) was authorized by Assembly Bill 900.



“We are very pleased to begin construction of our second AB 900 project this week,” said CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate, referring to the CIW project and a 64-bed project that broke ground Tuesday at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville. “Through these efforts, and the approval by the State Public Works Board this week to build three more prison health facilities, CDCR is demonstrating its commitment to meeting court mandates in improving health care services and alleviating overcrowding in our prisons.”

The stand-alone facility totaling 53,000 square feet in size will include housing, treatment, support and administrative services that will help mitigate CDCR’s unmet licensed mental health bed deficiencies for inmate patients as part of the Coleman vs. Schwarzenegger class action lawsuit. The project, expected to be completed in December 2011, will also add two new guard towers and 180 parking spaces for new staff. The facility will be staffed by employees of the California Department of Mental Health and operated by CDCR upon completion.

“These projects will provide significant economic stimulus for California and for their respective communities at a time when the state desperately needs new employment opportunities,” said Chris Meyer, Senior Chief, Facility Planning, Construction and Management for CDCR.

Both projects are expected to obtain a Silver certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for new construction rating system pursuant to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Executive Order #S-20-04. A LEED Silver rating promotes occupant well being and lessens the building’s environmental impacts.

CDCR awarded the project to Soltek Pacific Construction of San Diego after a competitive process involving 18 construction firms. Soltek Pacific Construction will be joining other participants on the project team including staff from CDCR, consultants Kitchell CEM, Gilbane Building Company and Nacht & Lewis Architects among other sub-consultants.

Construction Quick Facts:
Firm: Soltek Pacific Construction, San Diego
Total Project Costs: $ 33,763,000
Fund Source: AB 900 (GC 15819.40)
Construction timeline: June 2010 start, December 2011 completion
Contract #: FAC.09018

Link to photographs: http://www.flickr.com/photos/37381942@N04/sets/72157624296715720/

Link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3g12VjKYuo

For more information, visit the CDCR Facilities, Planning, Construction and Management Web Page: http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/FPCM/index.html

CDCR Suspends Visitation Statewide June 26-27

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 17, 2010                                

Contact:
George Kostyrko
Cassandra Hockenson
(916) 445-4950

Ongoing Budget Crisis Spurs Cost Savings Throughout the System

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) announced today that it will suspend most inmate visitation the last weekend of June due to the state’s fiscal crisis.

Cancellation of visiting at each of California’s 33 adult prisons for a single weekend – June 26 and 27 – will save $400,000 in overtime to help resolve budget concerns as the fiscal year comes to an end. Legally mandated visiting, such as attorney visits, will continue uninterrupted.

CDCR also is implementing other cost saving measures to address the state’s fiscal crisis including: redirecting custody posts to essential positions when employees call in sick or there are other vacancies; a departmental hiring freeze; reducing costs and staffing at headquarters; delaying or cancelling purchases and contracts unless to do so would create a health or security risk; and cancelling all non-critical travel and training.

The department plans to return to a full visiting program beginning July 1, which is the beginning of the new fiscal year.

“Due to the state’s fiscal crisis, we have to make difficult choices to reduce operational costs this fiscal year in a number of areas, including the last weekend of visitation statewide,” said Terri McDonald, CDCR Chief Deputy Secretary of Adult Operations. “Because visitation impacts families directly, I have directed CDCR staff at the institutional level to ensure that inmate families and staff are notified of this decision.”

CDCR is making efforts to inform families about the cancelled visitation. Visitation phone lines will be updated with the new information.

Posters in both English and Spanish are planned to be posted at each institution. Notices will be placed on the closed circuit inmate television as well as postings throughout each institution. The institutional management team will discuss the planned closure with the inmate family councils and inmate population to ensure awareness.

The visitation cancellation on June 26 and June 27 does not include Division of Juvenile Justice facilities, terminally ill inmate visits and Community Correctional Facilities.

Wardens statewide also have been directed to cut costs by increasing the number of vacant posted peace officer positions from an existing three percent to five percent of all positions at each institution. This will result in staffing changes, including some exercise yards being temporarily closed. Inmates at yards that are closed will be allowed access to other yards at different times to ensure access to outdoor activities.

For more information on CDCR visiting policies go to: http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Visitors/index.html

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Division of Parole Operations Sponsors Second Annual “Dress For Success” Event to Help Women Parolees

FOR IMMEDIATE
June 16, 2010

Contact:
Peggy Bengs (916) 445-4950
Kelly Placeres, Parole Agent III
Stockton Parole Office (209) 948-7652

Community Organizations Donate Business Clothes to Help Female Ex-Offenders Find a Job

STOCKTON -- The right wardrobe can make all the difference in helping change the lives of others. That’s the motivation behind the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) second annual “Dress for Success” event that offers female parolees donated business attire to help them find the right job and stay employed. The event, held today at the Stockton parole office, is sponsored by CDCR’s Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) in partnership with local organizations.

“These women are actively seeking a better life,” said Parole Agent III Kelly Placeres, who coordinated the event. “Appropriate business attire empowers women to find a good job, help provide for their families, become productive members of their communities – and stay out of prison.”

The Division of Parole Operations (DAPO) oversees approximately 12,500 female parolees living in California. Parole agents are committed to public safety through enforcement of parole conditions but also to helping parolees integrate into society as productive, crime-free citizens.

The Dress for Success event gives female ex-offenders the tools they need to succeed. Women participating have been working to improve their lives in programs ranging from substance abuse treatment to recovering from trauma.

Local businesses, churches and other organizations made donations of new or gently used suits. Two business suits with accessories as well as additional work attire are made available to women who are actively pursuing employment and those who are currently employed and need assistance with clothing.

Among those attending are parolees from the Eldorado House in Stockton, a Female Offender Treatment and Employment Program (FOTEP), which provides gender-responsive counseling services to enable the female participants to successfully reintegrate into the community; and includes substance abuse, family reunification, vocational training and employment services.

Other participants are traveling from the Female Residential Multi-Service Center (FRMSC) program facilities in Sacramento and a FOTEP program in Treasure Island in San Francisco. This program provides gender-specific services for women who suffer from trauma and substance abuse issues. Members of the Stockton’s Women’s Support Group sponsored by DAPO’s Stockton parole office are also attending.

CDCR’s gender-responsive programs are an important component of the department’s overall strategy to provide rehabilitative services that address the specific needs of female offenders throughout incarceration and parole.

Organizations in San Joaquin or Sacramento counties that wish to donate clothing should contact Kelly Placeres, Parole Agent III, Stockton Parole Office, at (209) 948-7652.

To view highlights of last year’s event, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBhJUt4EY3Q

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

CDCR Breaks Ground on First AB 900 Construction Project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2010

Contact:
Gordon Hinkle / Paul Verke
(916) 445-4950

Awards Mental Health Facility Construction Contract to Brown Construction, Inc. of West Sacramento

VACAVILLE –The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) today broke ground on its first AB 900 construction project, a 64-bed intermediate care mental health facility at California Medical Facility (CMF) in Vacaville.
“We are very pleased to announce the construction of this mental health facility, the first of our AB 900 funded construction projects,” said CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate. “Through this important project, CDCR will be able to provide appropriate care for inmates needing intermediate care services and help satisfy court orders to provide increased mental health care to inmates.”

The new, stand alone facility will include housing, treatment, support and administrative services that will help mitigate the state’s unmet licensed mental health bed deficiencies for inmates as part of the Coleman vs. Schwarzenegger class action lawsuit.

Construction is expected to be completed in August 2011 and be fully activated by the end of 2011. Funding for the $33.7 million project was authorized with the passage of the historic AB 900 legislation, which dedicates bond funding authority for a variety of prison construction projects.

CDCR awarded the CMF project to Brown Construction Inc. of West Sacramento after a competitive bidding process involving 19 construction firms. Brown Construction will be joining other participants on the project team including staff from CDCR, consultants Kitchell CEM and Nacht & Lewis Architects among other sub-consultants.

The project also includes extending the existing electrified fence to encompass the new 44,000 square foot facility and adds two guard towers and 198 parking spaces for new staff.

The project is expected to obtain a Silver certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for new construction rating system pursuant to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Executive Order #S-20-04. A LEED Silver rating, which is difficult to obtain in a correctional setting, promotes occupant well-being and lessens the structure’s environmental impacts.

The CMF project is the first of many AB 900 construction projects currently being developed by CDCR. It will be staffed and operated by employees of the California Department of Mental Health and CDCR.

Construction Quick Facts:

Firm: Brown Construction Incorporated, of West Sacramento
Total Project Cost: $33,671,000
Fund Source: AB 900 (GC 15819.40/Bond Funding)
Construction timeline: June 2010 start, Aug. 2011 completion
Facility Activation: December 2011
Contract #: FAC.09014

Link to CDCR Facilities, Planning, Construction and Management Web Page: http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/FPCM/index.html

More photos of the groundbreaking ceremony can be found on our Flickr website:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/37381942@N04/sets/72157624159003425/

Staff Controls Riot at Calipatria State Prison

For Immediate Release
June 14, 2010

Contact:
Shawn McLinn, Correctional Lieutenant
(760) 348-7000 Extension 6002

CALIPATRIA – On Saturday, June 12, 2010 at approximately 2:00 p.m., inmates in Calipatria State Prison (CAL) Facility A began fighting in the recreation yard. The fighting was contained to Facility A, which houses approximately 870 inmates, of which approximately 540 are General Population inmates.

Correctional staff immediately responded, formed into tactical units, and systematically regained control of the recreation yard by using pepper spray, less lethal force, and lethal force options.

"I want to thank all of the staff at CAL for their quick and courageous response to stop this major disturbance,” Said Derral Adams, Calipatria State Prison Warden (A). Staff's dedication to duty was displayed Saturday by how quickly and safely they were able to control the fighting."

As a result of the incident, more than 35 inmates were treated by medical staff at the institution for minor non-life threatening injuries and two inmates with more serious injuries were transported to a local outside hospital for treatment.

Inmate S. Johnson (P89629), who was in the general area of the incident, was transported to the CAL Triage and Treatment Area where medical staff immediately performed life saving measures. Inmate Johnson was soon thereafter pronounced deceased. At this time it does not appear that Inmate Johnson was involved with the incident and had no injuries consistent with any Use of Force options. Inmate S. Johnson was serving a 37 year sentence for Second Degree Murder. The County Coroner is investigating this death and next of kin have been notified.

No CAL staff were injured as a result of this incident and the institution has been placed on a modified program pending investigation into the cause of the riot.

Monday, June 14, 2010

CDCR Announces a New, More Expansive Website

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 14, 2010

Contact:
Gordon Hinkle
(916) 445-4950

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) announced several improvements to its website to ease navigation, incorporates daily blogs and upcoming events as well as a new layout style and easier access to archived information. The improvements to what was already an award-winning website demonstrates CDCR’s goal to increase the public’s access to information.


"Our department has made a concentrated effort to expand and improve our communications efforts as evident by these enhancements to our website. The improvements allow us to better communicate with our stakeholders, and the general public on the issues important to them," said CDCR's Secretary, Matthew Cate.



In addition to the latest news stories and featured links, CDCR Internet Development Team has added daily news blogs for each main area of interest allowing for quicker updates on the latest stories important to the state’s correctional system. These blogs also archive information on their specific topics going back to 1996, and are searchable through Google.

“CDCR is dedicated to continually improving its communications efforts and providing information sharing tools with the public via our website,” said CDCR’s Assistant Secretary of Communications, Oscar Hidalgo.

For those interested in tracking a specific topic related to CDCR, the RSS feed enables a visitor to subscribe for instant updates to particular blogs on the website.

Visitors to the CDCR website can also get to a variety of social media outlets, including Facebook and Twitter, from a link on any page. Those sites provide even more information through expanded social networking and interaction. Access to daily news clips via the “CDCR Star” is also featured throughout the site.

Overall, the new site structure incorporates a common sense approach that allows access to the information you need, whenever you may need it.

In 2009, CDCR’s website was awarded the Gold Award, “Best State Website”, by the State Information Officers Council (SIOC). At the 2010 SIOC Awards Ceremony, CDCR once again received top honors for its website by winning Gold and Silver Awards in the “Website” and “Use of Social Media” categories.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hundreds of Children Visit Incarcerated Dads for Father’s Day at Annual ‘Get On The Bus’ event

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Gordon Hinkle (916) 445-4950
Peggy Bengs (916) 261-2282

SACRAMENTO - The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the Center for Restorative Justice Works (CRJW) are again bringing together hundreds of children to visit their incarcerated fathers to celebrate Father’s Day during the Annual Get On The Bus event.

Thirty-three buses filled with more than 700 children and their caregivers will travel from major cities across California to one of four male institutions with five separate Father’s Day events:
  • California Men’s Colony (CMC), San Luis Obispo – June 5 and 12
  • Correctional Training Facility (CTF), Soledad – June 19
  • Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP), Soledad – June 19
  • California State Prison, Solano (CSP-Solano) – June 19
The buses arrive between 8 and 10 a.m. to accommodate the greatest number of visitors in visiting rooms with limited space.

"Get On The Bus brings incarcerated fathers and their children together for a memorable visit,” said CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate. "A strong bond between a father and his family helps that inmate succeed upon release and shows children how important they are in their parent’s life.”

Approximately 200,000 children in California have an incarcerated parent and live with relatives or in foster care, according to CDCR.

"Seldom do people ask, ‘What about the children?’” said Get On The Bus Executive Director, Sister Suzanne Jabro. “These are the hidden victims of crime and punishment.”

For the first time, youth members of Project WHAT!, a program that raises awareness about the effects of parental incarceration on children, are sponsoring a bus so that other children will have the opportunity to visit their parents. Project WHAT!, a program of the Berkeley-based nonprofit, Community Works, is comprised of youth ages 15-20, all of whom have or have had a parent in prison or jail.

In addition, Get On The Bus has launched two pilot projects to bring children for the first time to California State Prison, Solano and Salinas Valley State Prison.

Get On The Bus provides children and their caregivers with travel bags for the children, comfort care bags for the caregivers, a photograph of each child with his or her father, and meals for the day. The meals include breakfast, snacks on the bus, lunch at the prison and dinner on the way home. On the bus trip home following the visit with the fathers, each child will receive a teddy bear with a letter from his or her father as well as post-event counseling. The program is funded by donations from churches, schools, family foundations, grants and other organizations.

"A child needs to see and know their father is safe and to know they are loved,” added Sister Suzanne.

Get On The Bus reunited children with their mothers on May 7, 2010 for Mother's Day at three California women’s institutions.

To view photos of last year’s event, visit the CDCR Flickr Photo Gallery: http://www.flickr.com/photos/37381942@N04/sets/72157624191882144/