By Joe Orlando, OPEC Public Information Officer

In 2011, Salinas Valley State Prison, a high security prison, had more than 1,200 incidents. In 2012, SVSP had 1,163 incidents. In 2013 SVSP had 977 incidents. This year Warden Randy Grounds says SVSP is on track for 720 incidents.

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Warden Randy Grounds. (Photo by CDCR staff photographer Scott Sabicer)

So why the significant reduction in incidents, and the reduction in violence?

Warden Grounds said credited an increase in rehabilitation programs.

“We’ve implemented  Alcoholics Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous programs along with a number of faith based volunteer religious programs,” said Warden Grounds.

To date SVSP has 11 rehabilitation programs, including Breaking Barriers, Alternatives to Violence, and Anger Management.

Along with three volunteer religious programs and religious services for 15 faiths and denominations. “I see the revival happening throughout the prison,” he said.

When Grounds took over at SVSP as Warden two years ago, there was one yard, known as Charlie Yard, that had been locked down for 14 years.

So why the turnaround?

Grounds said, “I would meet with my management every morning. I have a three-prong approach.

“One is Correctional Awareness – Corrections 101. Two is delivery of service – Do it to the best of your ability. Three is leadership -stepping up, showing up.”

Grounds said a trip to San Quentin with his management team really turned some heads. He said inmates just walking around was an eye-opener.

Grounds said his team knew then and there that being locked down doesn’t work, and they had to change the staff culture so the staff and inmates weren’t so polarized.

That’s when the programs really started to take off. “I went to one program and fifty guys were really digging down deep, getting to it,” said Grounds.

Grounds also said that he has emphasized the importance of families and responsibility, along with working closely with the local communities. He said he and his staff and inmates are reaching out to local high schools to make teenagers aware that they have choices.

Grounds is retiring next month.

His proudest moment he said is when Charlie Yard was opened and kept opened, something many, including staff and inmates, didn’t think would happen.

“We needed a cultural shift,” he said.

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Warden Randy Grounds and staff. (Photo by CDCR staff photographer Scott Sabicer)