The arts have played a role in the rehabilitation of offenders. From painting to acting, inmates have turned around their lives, becoming productive citizens after release from prison. Even the violence of the 1970s didn’t stop the state from trying to achieve this goal. This is the fourth part in a series delving deeper into the department’s rehabilitative efforts.
The May 1989 edition of Correction News touted the department’s first female firefighters at Folsom State Prison. One of the firefighters had been a U.S. Olympic ski team athlete when she was a teenager.
This 1967-68 departmental Progress Report outlined numerous shifts in managing the state’s prison system including a new family visiting program and challenges in filling conservation camps. At the time, the department operated 13 institutions and 34 conservation camps.
With little information at hand, unedited film clips of inmates and staff performing gave no indication of when the film was shot or by whom. There was no audio in the film. After searching, it turns out to be from the 1942 movie “The Men of San Quentin.”
A correctional system established in the California Gold Rush was upended by an unlikely source – an inmate at Folsom Prison. Sparking a state investigation, California’s entire prison system changed in 1944 with the formation of the California Department of Corrections (and later the CDCR).