Thursday, April 30, 2015

Condemned inmate Richard James Poynton dies of unknown causes

SAN QUENTIN – Condemned inmate Richard James Poynton, 64, who was on California’s death row from Los Angeles County, was found unresponsive in his cell at San Quentin State Prison Thursday, April 30, 2015. He was pronounced dead at the prison at 6:50 a.m. The cause of death is unknown pending the results of an autopsy. Poynton was single-celled.

Poynton was sentenced to death on April 9, 2001, by a Los Angeles County jury for the Jan. 15, 1999, murder of his estranged wife of 18 years, Maria Poynton. A month after Maria obtained a restraining order to remove Poynton from the home, he ran her vehicle off the road and approached her, hitting her twice over the head and stabbing her 12 times. Poynton had been on death row since April 18, 2001.

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 three inmates’ causes of death are pending. There are 752 people on California’s death row.

For more information contact Lt. Sam Robinson at (415) 455-5008.

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.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 2015   

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

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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 www.cdcr.ca.gov.


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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 20, 2015

CONTACT: Lt. Tom Mattson

(661) 721-2345, ext. 5006
   

                                                       

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Friday, April 17, 2015

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, Understanding the Impact of Crime and the Victims Left Behind

Honoring victims, survivors and those who protect their rights and serve their needs

SACRAMENTO –   California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)   kicked off National Crime Victims’ Rights Week with a Moment of Silence, led by CDCR Secretary Jeff Beard to remember those who have been harmed by crime.

The theme of this year’s ceremony was, “Engaging Communities-Empowering Victims.”

“I affirm our dedication to respecting and enforcing victims’ rights and addressing needs during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and throughout the year,” Beard said during the ceremony at CDCR headquarters. “I would like to express my appreciation for victims and crime survivors who have turned personal tragedy into a motivating force to improve our response to victims of crime.”

Beard shared the podium with guest speaker Mindi Russell Senior Chaplain and Executive Director of the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy of Sacramento. Also addressing the audience was Cynthia Florez-DeLyon, Chief of CDCR’s Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services (OVSRS).

 “Crime victims must know they have a voice,” Florez-DeLyon said. “We’re addressing every victim who asks for our help, for our services. We are part of the process, from the arrest to working with probation to working with the district attorney’s. Victims are advised that we are there for them, and we let them know what they can expect. That’s important.”

CDCR’s OVSRS provides comprehensive services to crime victims such as counseling, collecting restitution and transportation to parole hearings. In California, victims of crime have the right to be notified of the offender’s status, the right to participate in the juvenile and criminal justice process and the right to be reimbursed by the offender for costs related to the criminal act.

In 2014, a total of $17,546,676 was collected in victim restitution and fines from adult and juvenile offenders.

Also last year, OVSRS staff assisted 1,830 victims in offenders parole hearing processes, helped them attend the hearings in prison or by audio or video conference and made sure that more than $66,000 was provided to help more than 370 victims and/or their families to attend suitability hearings.

OVSRS also located 2,400 victims whose whereabouts were previously unknown and distributed to them more than $2.4 million of restitution collected from inmates.

Victim Service agencies in attendance included; California Crime Victims Coalition, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Victim Assistance, My Sister’s House, Parents of Murdered Children, Citizens Against Homicide and Women Escaping a Violent Environment (WEAVE).

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 17, 2015   

CONTACT: JOE ORLANDO
(916) 445-4950

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Inmate Fire Fighter Suffers Fatal Cardiac Arrest

SACRAMENTO - The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) today identified an inmate firefighter who suffered a fatal cardiac arrest yesterday during a training exercise.  CDCR delayed the announcement until the inmate’s family could be notified.

Raymond Araujo, 37, suffered a full cardiac arrest during the exercise in the Hathaway Canyon on the Morongo Indian Reservation, northeast of Banning, in Riverside County.  After being airlifted by helicopter to a base camp, Araujo died at the scene despite efforts by CAL FIRE and Riverside County Fire Department medics to resuscitate him.


Araujo was one of 43 Riverside County jail inmates who have volunteered to work beside 3,900 CDCR inmates on wild land fire crews, under a contract between CDCR and the county.  The inmate firefighters are housed in 43 Conservation Camps operated by CDCR with CAL FIRE and the Los Angeles County Fire Department.


“The inmates who volunteer to protect our communities from the devastation of fires perform a valuable public service and it is a sad event when we lose one of them.” said CDCR Undersecretary Scott Kernan. 


The offices of the Riverside County Sheriff and Coroner are investigating the incident and will be responsible for formally declaring the cause of death.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                       
April 14, 2015

Contact:  Bill Sessa
(916) 445-4950
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Monday, April 13, 2015

Inmate Deaths at Kern Valley State Prison Being Investigated as Homicides

DELANO – Officials at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) are investigating the deaths of two inmates as homicides.

The first incident occurred at 12:46 a.m. Saturday, April 11, when inmate Damion Soward, 37, was found unresponsive in his cell. He was transported to an outside hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, April 12. Next-of-kin have been notified.

Prison officials have named Soward’s cellmate, Lawrence Phillips, 39, as a suspect in the case. Phillips was received by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) on Oct. 16, 2008, from San Diego County to serve a 31-year, four-month sentence for inflicting great bodily injury involving domestic violence, corporal injury to spouse, false imprisonment and vehicle theft. Phillips played in the National Football League prior to his incarceration in state prison.

Soward was received by CDCR on March 12, 2009, from San Bernardino County to serve 82 years to life for first-degree murder.

At 11 a.m. Saturday, April 11, inmate Rattanak Kim, 41, was found unresponsive in his cell. He was transported to an outside hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at 11:48 a.m. Next-of-kin have been notified.

Prison officials have named Kim’s cellmate, John Munoz, 24, as a suspect in the case.  Munoz was admitted to CDCR on Feb. 17, 2011, to serve a 42-year, eight-month sentence from Los Angeles County for sexual battery, oral copulation with force and violence resulting in great bodily injury, rape/resist with force and violence and first-degree burglary.

Kim was received by CDCR on July 6, 1995, from San Diego County to serve a 35-year-to-life sentence for conspiracy to commit murder.

Both suspects have has been placed in the Administrative Segregation Unit pending investigations by KVSP, Kern County Coroner and Kern County District Attorney. KVSP administrators have limited inmate movement on the facilities where the incidents occurred to facilitate the investigations. The Office of the Inspector General was notified.

KVSP opened in 2005 and houses 3,756 minimum-, medium-, maximum- and high-security custody inmates. KVSP offers academic classes and vocational programs and employs approximately 1,800 people. For more information, visit www.cdcr.ca.gov.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 13, 2015       
                                                  
CONTACT: LT. MARSHALL DENNING
(661) 721-6314
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