By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor, OPEC
Today’s rehabilitative efforts in the state prison system can be traced back to the early days of the department. More than a century ago, visionary wardens pushed for job training, education and family engagement so former inmates could reintegrate back into society after being released from prison. Like the definition of visionary, these leaders implemented original ideas and planned the future with “imagination or wisdom.” This series takes a closer look at some of these wardens and their contributions to shaping what would become today’s CDCR. This is the fourth part in the series.
Kenyon Scudder, California Institution for Men
Carrying on Warden Clinton Duffy’s work, CIM’s superintendent sought to make rehabilitation the main focus of the institution’s work.
“It came as a surprise when the state prison board appointed Kenyon Scudder, a federal prison warden from Ohio, to take over the wardenship of the new Southern California prison now under construction at Chino,” reported the Healdsburg Tribune, Dec. 16, 1940. “Scudder combined the experience of federal service with many years of work in California. He was superintendent of the Whittier state school for boys, held the same job at the Preston School of Industry at Ione, and for nine years was chief probation officer for Los Angeles County.”
He was no stranger to rehabilitation prior to starting at Chino.
“Under the leadership of Kenyon J. Scudder, appointed chief probation officer in 1931, the probation department initiated its forest camp program and established the first Community Coordination Council. … The camp program later served as the model for the … California Conservation Corps camps and for similar camp programs for youth throughout the nation and the world,” stated the Los Angeles County Probation Department website.
Scudder, who was 50 at the time of his appointment, personally selected his staff and inmates.
“Kenyon J. Scudder, executive supervisor of the institution, and three assistants will bring the (first) 34 men to Chino by chartered bus. A second consignment of 34 is due to arrive a week later,” reported the San Bernardino Sun, July 10, 1941. “The prisoners were selected by Scudder last week after he had interviewed 100 men chosen by a board at San Quentin as best fitted for rehabilitation.”
The paper described CIM as “dedicated to rehabilitation of wayward men into useful citizens. The arrivals will not be known as ‘cons’ but as ‘inmates’ … and the word ‘prison’ will not be mentioned.”
During World War II, inmates at CIM “began canning beef stew, vegetable hash and other foods for the army … under an army contract,” reported the Healdsburg Tribune, March 5, 1943.
“They’re going back – either embittered, or with a desire to make amends and a determination to make a future for themselves,” Scudder told the San Bernardino Sun, Feb. 4, 1951.
A 1952 newspaper account describes Scudder’s work at CIM.
“In addition to doing all the work on the 2,600-acre ranch where (CIM) is located, the men and their supervisors have developed handicraft shops, vocational schools, recreational facilities and even a canning factory,” reported the Healdsburg paper on April 10. “They have also established auxiliary labor gangs for the Army and Forestry Service.”
Scudder was an outspoken advocate for reform.
“We have got to change the prison system all over America,” he told the Desert Sun, Jan. 25, 1954. “Because prisoners are people and (most) of them will return to their communities, you must prepare them to get back into society – teach them to appreciate the meaning of liberty. Too many come out of prison worse than when they entered.”
At CIM, family visiting was a priority.
“One of the most unusual featured of the Chino institution, the superintendent said, is the visiting area where the men can have lunch and visit with their families for four hours on Sundays. ‘It preserves the family unit and helps prepare the men for return to family life,’ Dr. Scudder said.”
In 1954, he was named acting deputy director for the Department of Corrections. That same year, his wife, Rebekah Jewett Scudder, died following a “lengthy illness,” according to news accounts at the time. They had been married since 1917. Scudder, a published author who had a long career in penology and law enforcement, decided it was time to retire.
“Scudder, retiring after 14 years as superintendent of (CIM) at Chino, was honored Tuesday night at a dinner in Hollywood by 400 civic leaders and law enforcement officials,” reported the San Bernardino Sun, Feb. 3, 1955. “Scudder is the penologist who founded the minimum security prison at Chino, known as a model among such institutions.”
L.A. County Supervisor John Anson Ford presented Scudder with a scroll on behalf of the county. “Tribute was paid him also by Walter A. Gordon, chairman of the Adult Authority; Richard A. McGee, director of the state Department of Corrections; Heman G. Stark, director of the Youth Authority, and other officials,” the paper reported.
Scudder’s book, “Prisoners are People,” was used as the basis for a movie about CIM. Titled “Unchained,” the film premiered at the prison in January 1955. It was also filmed at the prison and featured many of the inmates as actors.
William Richard Wilkinson, a longtime custody staff member who started under Scudder in 1951, detailed Scudder’s successes in his book “Prison Work: A Tale of Thirty Years in the California Department of Corrections.”
“Chino was productive. They had a good vocational setup there: welding, carpentry, cement work, the trades. Especially the welding. Scudder had no problem placing his people. He had immediate jobs for the welding people because the training was so good,” Wilkinson wrote. “The institution at Chino was different. It was a new concept.”
Fred Dickson, a former CIM assistant superintendent who left earlier to head the corrections department in the state of Washington, was named as Scudder’s replacement.
Dickson had high praise for his predecessor and the rehabilitative work of CIM.
“The program is not based alone on custody of prisoners but also upon treatment toward rehabilitation. (Most) of all men sent to prison are eventually released. The protection we can give to the public is to establish programs that will release better men than when they were received,” Dickson told the San Bernardino Sun, June 6, 1956. “(CIM) was at one time referred to as an experimental program when it was first established under the leadership of Kenyon J. Scudder in 1941; however, 15 years later it is no more an experiment – it is an established fact.”
Scudder died in 1977.
Robert A. Heinze, Folsom State Prison
From 1917 to 1966, Robert Heinze worked for the department. He started at San Quentin, served as a parole officer and became warden of Folsom State Prison in 1944, the year the department underwent a complete overhaul. He was appointed by Gov. Earl Warren and served as the prison’s warden for 22 years.
“California’s tough, two-fisted warden with the big heart finally is walking out the gate and going fishing,” declared the Madera Tribune on Jan. 3, 1966. “After nearly a half century in the prison business, Robert A. Heinze, the state’s most experienced warden and boss of its roughest penitentiary, figures it’s time ‘to get a little rest.’”
“I’d hate to wait until it’s too late,” he told the newspaper. He was 67 years old and had seen many changes during his time with the department.
“Heinze has seen it all – the striped suits, quarry pits, dungeons, riots (and) strikes,” the newspaper reported.
“I was 19 years old when I made my first trip to this place,” Heinze said. “I never figured I’d be warden.”
In 1917, Heinze was a “kind of chauffeur, secretary and confidant” to the president of the State Board of Prison Directors, he said. In 1927, he became a parole officer, supervising parole officer at San Quentin and Folsom in 1940 and four years later, he was Folsom’s warden.
“In those days a privileged inmate was the con-boss and he ran the whole shebang,” he told the newspaper. “He just ran around and made himself comfortable and everybody else did the work. And a little politics was involved in how you got your job, but that all went out with civil service.”
During his nearly 50 years with the department, he said the biggest change had been “a better understanding” between convicts and staff.
“He credits new prison programs – such as group counseling, school classes and vocational training – with the attitude switch,” the newspaper reported.
Heinze also reflected on how some inmates are simply beyond help if they don’t want to change.
“I don’t have all the answers and I don’t suppose anyone has,” he told the paper. “There isn’t any set formula for handling people. … There are some inmates we’re never going to get to, and nobody ever will.”
On Dec. 18, 1963, the Sausalito News touted the prison’s efforts to rehabilitate inmates through job training.
“Cooperation between labor and management can play a vital role in efforts to rehabilitate lawbreakers,” the paper reported. “This was demonstrated (in Folsom) today in the presentation of a model on-the-job training program aimed at preparing inmates for well-paying jobs after their release from prison.”
A trade union was directly involved in the program, much as the unions are involved today through Prison Industry Authority.
In 1963, this was a novel approach.
“Under the program carefully selected inmates will be trained,” the paper reported. “With assistance from the State Division of Apprenticeship Standards, prison officials and labor-management representatives of the Machinists Trade Advisory Committee spent more than a year developing (classroom and on-the-job) curriculum and standards for the program.”
It was a certificate program, much as it is today.
“After completing their training, inmates will be given a certificate not unlike hundreds of others issued annually by the (apprenticeship division) to show competence in a craft,” the paper reported.
Marion King, California Medical Facility
CMF was the first of its kind in the nation and began in 1950 at a temporary location at Terminal Island in southern California. Dr. Marion King was the first warden, then known as superintendents. A permanent facility in Vacaville was officially dedicated Oct. 26, 1954.
“(CMF Superintendent) Dr. King is himself a psychiatrist as well as a prison administrator. He saw the institution he headed at Terminal Island become the birthplace five years ago of group therapy for prisoner rehabilitation. …. It is believed to be one of the most effective psychiatric devices currently used to further the progressive concept of prisoner treatment rather than mere custody,” reported the Vallejo Times-Herald on May 9, 1955.
He was the superintendent at CMF from 1950 until 1959. King passed away in 1978.