By Lt. Edward Sanchez, AA/PIO
California State Prison, Corcoran

Thirty years ago, in 1988, California State Prison, Corcoran, was activated, becoming the 19th state prison. Earlier this year, the prison recognized three decades of public safety and honored those who have worked at the institution since it opened.

Attending the event included representatives for State Sen. Andy Vidak, Assembly member Rudy Salas, city council members and Mayor Raymond Lerma.

When CSP-Corcoran opened in February 1988, it was the first California prison built with a separate facility to exclusively house Security Housing Unit (SHU) inmates. Along with the two SHU facilities, three facilities were built to house General Population inmates, and a facility to house Level I inmates, which today is called the Minimum Support facility. In 1993, five years after CSP-Corcoran opened, the hospital was activated and in 2003, the stand alone Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) was built. Over the years CSP-Corcoran has progressed and changed to become a complex multi-mission institution. Today CSP-Corcoran is comprised of nine facilities, including SHU, MSF, Level III, Level IV and ASU, to name a few.

CSP-Corcoran provides medical, mental health, education, vocational, substance abuse, religious, and self-help programs to all inmates confined within the institution. The medical department which is comprised of dental, medical and mental health services provides the inmate population with high quality, professional care. Our Education Department provides Adult Basic Education, GED, and English as a Second Language classes. The vocational classes that are offered to the inmates are office services, electronics, machine shop, sheet metal and welding. The Substance Use Disorder Treatment Program is designed to promote positive social behavior and helps inmates develop the knowledge and the skills that are necessary to avoid substance abuse relapse.

“The religious programs are provided by volunteers and our chaplains. Our self-help programs are inmate ran groups sponsored by CSP-Corcoran staff. Jobs provided to inmates are also a part of CSP-Corcoran’s rehabilitation program. The skills the inmates acquire from the jobs that they have held while incarcerated can help them obtain jobs upon release,” said Warden Martin Biter. “The knowledge an inmate learns from these programs will set the foundation for the inmate’s future achievements.”

A prison as complex as CSP-Corcoran, can only operate as well as the staff who run it. Each day Warden Biter begins the work day with words of wisdom he shares with all CSP-Corcoran staff.

Warden Biter does this to inspire positive thoughts and motivate each employee to be the best that they can be. One quote Warden Biter noted which he believes represents CSP-Corcoran and its staff is, “we learn and grow and are transformed not so much by what we do, but by why and how we do it.”  Warden Biter said he has seen the challenges and the triumphs, CSP-Corcoran staff face each day. Working within the constraints of strict state guidelines and budgets is no small feat.

“The dedication and hard work CSP-Corcoran staff commit to running an operation such as Corcoran are second to none,” said Warden Biter. “It is a privilege to work with such outstanding people and at an institution that I believe is not only making a difference but is inspiring change.”

Some of the CSP Corcoran staff who have worked at the institution since the beginning:

  • Correctional Officer Jim Ramirez, Jan. 18, 1988
  • Correctional Officer Keith A. Lozano, Feb. 15, 1988
  • Correctional Officer Reynaldo Aguirre, April 18, 1988
  • Correctional Officer Michael Hutchinson May 30, 1988
  • Correctional Officer Gayland D. Stoll, May 30, 1988
  • Correctional Officer Troy J. Clegg, Nov. 14, 1988
  • Correctional Officer Carlos Carrisales Nov. 14, 1988
  • Correctional Officer Tommy Leija Nov. 14, 1988
  • Correctional Officer Kenneth W. T. Unruh, Nov. 14, 1988
  • Correctional Officer Francisco J. Mascarenas Nov. 14, 1988
  • Correctional Officer Robert D. Womack Dec. 26, 1988