Youth Correctional Counselors and Youth Correctional Officers taking the oath at the Basic Correctional Juvenile Academy graduation.

Youth Correctional Counselors and Youth Correctional Officers taking the oath at the Basic Correctional Juvenile Academy graduation.

By Joe Orlando, CDCR Public Information Officer
Photos by Jeff Baur, CDCR Television Specialist

It was a day of celebration as 44 men and women graduated from the Basic Correctional Juvenile Academy (BCJA) in a well-attended event at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Richard A. McGee Correctional Training Center in Galt.

All of the graduates will be working for CDCR’s Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).

“You are the first graduating class from this academy in five years,” said DJJ Deputy Director Anthony Lucero.

Basic Correctional Juvenile Academy graduates from left are Youth Correctional Counselor Ryan Orr, Youth Correctional Counselor Olga Cardenas and Youth Correctional Officer Kasinda Lard.

Basic Correctional Juvenile Academy graduates from left are Youth Correctional Counselor Ryan Orr, Youth Correctional Counselor Olga Cardenas and Youth Correctional Officer Kasinda Lard.

“I had no clue what to expect,” new Youth Correctional Counselor (YCC) Ryan Orr said when the 16-week training began in April. The Academy started with 48 YCC and Youth Correctional Officer (YCO) cadets, and all but four graduated.

The 16 weeks of training have been tough for a lot of the grads who left behind husbands, wives and children to follow their dreams.

“It feels great,” said new YCC Olga Cardenas, who is also mother to three children ranging in age from 8 to 16. “Who says we can’t do it? I just set goals for myself and went out and accomplished those goals.”

Ryan Orr, another new YCC, was a seasonal firefighter with Cal Fire for years and also lost 40 pounds during the training academy.

“I needed stability in my life. I wanted to do this for my 2-year-old son Nicolai. I wanted him to see me with my badge,” Orr said. Nicolai attended the graduation.

A major difference between training at the BCJA and training on the adult side is the Integrated Behavior Treatment Model (IBTM), an integral element to the course structure at all DJJ facilities.

IBTM is designed to reduce institutional violence and future criminal behavior by teaching anti-criminal attitudes and personal skills so youth offenders can better manage their environment.

“You are the first IBTM class graduating. What you have learned will go a long way in working with the juvenile offenders,” Deputy Director Lucero told the graduates. “You are part of one of the most recognized juvenile systems in America. … Never stop learning; the world of juvenile justice is ever-changing.”

Kasinda Lard is now officially a YCO. He said he tried for years to join CDCR.

“This has been a lifelong dream. I waited for 10 years to be here. I appreciate the department, what they provide for communities, for the state,” said Lard. “I’d rather be here than anywhere.”

Lard said to protect and serve runs in the family. His son will join the Army in two days.

Every graduate of Apache Company will be going to N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility (YCF) in Stockton, O.H. Close YCF in Stockton or Ventura YCF.

Richard A. McGee Correctional Training Center Academy Commander Jason Lowe left the grads with this thought: “Be strong, confident and fair. Be safe, don’t lose yourself and always do the right thing.”

Graduation day at the Basic Correctional Juvenile Academy.

Graduation day at the Basic Correctional Juvenile Academy.