Fund-raisers at Calipatria State Prison give more than $33,000 to local community

By Lieutenant Jorge Santana | Calipatria State Prison

The 2000 census determined that Calipatria had 7,289 residents – with about 4,000 residing within the confines of Calipatria State Prison. Even though most of the city’s population are inmates, many of whom are not from the Imperial County region, there remains a spirit of giving.

In 2011, the prison’s Inmate Leisure Time Activity Groups (ILTAGs) raised more than $33,000 for the local community. The donations included:

  • $1,000 to the Imperial Valley Food Bank
  • $2,500 to the Center for Family Solutions
  • $2,000 each to Brawley and Calipatria high schools for student scholarships
  • $1,114 in bicycles for Fremont and Grace Smith elementary schools and the El Centro Police Activities League.

Two of the more notable donations were made by the prison’s Inmate Athletic Organization, which conducts athletic tournament fund-raisers. The ILTAG donated 42 Wii units to Miguel Hidalgo School, so that students, who often remain indoors during the summer to escape temperatures that can reach 120 degrees, can exercise in the cafeteria.

This ILTAG also donated two 42-inch televisions and a surround-sound system for the student exercise room at Barbara Worth Junior High School.  Many of the children of the approximately 1,200 prison staff members attend these schools and have benefited from the donations. 

When the Inmate Athletic Organization ILTAG conducts a tournament at the facility, the staff sees the number of violent incidents drop dramatically. Inmates know that if the facility is on modified program the tournament will be canceled. A safer institution benefits prison staff, inmates, and local residents. 

The inmates not only make donations to the local community but also become part of the local commerce. For example, a fund-raiser at the institution might involve offering meals from Church’s Chicken, Pizza Hut, or Raley’s. These businesses get access to a clientele — the inmates — not normally available.  And the ILTAG writes a check for $15,000 to $35,000.

So far this year, the ILTAGs are on track to shatter the 2011 donations. A few of the inmate groups have doubled their fundraising efforts over last year, and the institution is expecting to add even more ILTAGs, which are anticipated to conduct fund-raising events.