By Lt. Mike Tuntakit, AA/PIO
Avenal State Prison

Avenal State Prison (ASP) recently marked its 30th anniversary of service to Californians and as a vital part of CDCR.

Over the last 30 years, ASP has been home to many CDCR leaders, including Kathleen Allison, Director of CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions (DAI);  and Sandra Alfaro, DAI Associate Director of High Security Males.

Other speakers at the celebration included:

  • Chief Deputy Warden Paul Vera led the Pledge of Allegiance and gave the speech.
  • ASP Warden Rosemary Ndoh gave her dedication speech.
  • Enrique Castro said the prayer.
  • Officer Duck Howard, who activated ASP and still working today as an officer.
  • Associate Director Alfaro, a former ASP Honor Guard member and ASP Captain.
  • Brian Duffy, a former Warden of the California Medical Facility and a retired annuitant. He came to ASP as an acting Chief Deputy Warden and mentor. He is now the Associate Director for Reception Center. He spoke of the genuine happiness, working relationships, and positive programming at ASP.
  • Retired ASP Warden Michael Madding, whose good leadership and influence was cited in many speeches.
  • Avenal’s Chief of Police Rusty Stivers shared his appreciation for ASP’s accomplishments to the community.
  • Darlene Stacey, who has served 30 years on the Citizen Advisory Council and has only missed four meetings. She swore in the first four of the eight Wardens at ASP.
  • Avenal Mayor Alvarado Preciado presented the Warden a certificate and expressed gratitude for her accomplishments as well as the work of ASP staff.
  • State Sen. Andy Vidak’s Office presented a certificate and congratulations to ASP for 30 years of service.
  • Assemblyman Rudy Salas’s Office presented a certificate and appreciations to ASP.

Following the guest speakers, retired ASP Correctional Counselor I Liz Wagner sang “Amazing Grace.”

The ASP Honor Guard conducted the flag presentation. The guard also presented ASP’s Warden Ndoh with the 30th Anniversary Flag, which will be showcased next to the first flag ever flown over ASP.

After the presentations, retirees, employees, and dignitaries were provided lunch and a tour of the institution.

Local celebrity and Avenal native Jose Ramirez, formerly the number one lightweight boxer in the world and a 2012 Olympian, took part in our celebration and toured the prison. On the tour, he saw a large mural of City of Avenal that showcased a portrait of him. The inmate artist shook hands with the champ, who signed the mural to show his support to the inmates and staff at ASP.

The primary mission of ASP is to provide for the control, care and treatment of those inmates committed to CDCR by the courts. ASP is designated as a low-medium security institution to provide housing for general population inmates.

ASP is a level II institution activated in 1987 which is now comprised of six separate, semi-autonomous facilities, with 17, 270 style dormitory housing units, one-cell housing unit, and six open dorm E-bed buildings. The institution currently houses both general population and sensitive needs inmates.

What makes ASP unique is that it is the first prison in a span of 20 years; an idea sparked by local Pharmacist Nicholas “Nick” Ivans and his wife, Edna. Evans was looking for a way to bring prosperity back to the city as the oil production slowed.

The community backed the location of a prison in the community. Upon activation of the ASP, Howard Ricks, Avenal Public Works Director formed a welcoming for all the employees and their families at Rice Park and the Community Center.  It should be noted that both Rick Howard and Nick Ivans attended every ASP Community Advisory Committee until Nick Ivan’s recent passing.

The first Warden Superintendent Al Gomez and the 170 plus staff moved into the new temporary administration modules on Jan. 19, 1987.