By Delinia Lewis, CRM
California Institution for Men
On April 29, the California Institution for Men (CIM) made history, thanks to Warden Dean Borders, who hosted the department’s first Transgender Provider Fair for Incarcerated Females, and the first of its kind in CDCR history. The Facility A recreation yard parted like the Red Sea as the Transgender resource providers marched, in single file, to the Culinary; determined to change the lives of the female incarcerated at CIM. A host of transgender inmates served as a welcoming committee at the entrance of culinary, waving and applauding the guests.
Thirty-six transgender females learned about post-release housing, employment and mental/medical service from vendors such as Trans-Form, APAIT, St. John’s Well Child and the Trans Latina Coalition and Restorative Justice Minister Nora Jacob with UrbanMission.
The two-hour event began with introductions, as each group shared how their organization was founded and what resources they could provide the attendees. The female inmates were issued name tags with their preferred first name, which they all wore with dignity and pride.
After a brief photo session, the attendees were allowed to visit the display tables and take away vital information to assist in their smooth transition back into society. When asked how many participants were paroling in two years or less, over half the attendees raised their hands. The event concluded with a chocolate chip cookie social thanks to the culinary staff who outdid themselves with cookies straight from the oven.
Warden Borders, Chief Deputy Warden Glen Pratt, Associate Warden LaVelle Parker, Facility A Capt. (A) Andreas Banuelos and Lt. Todd Thomas were also in attendance, providing a positive influence and their presence was well received.
Both the vendors and the participants felt the emotion of being a part of something monumental, expressing how grateful they were to take part in this historic event.
“This is good stuff,” said Warden Borders. “We are going to expand the fair to Facilities C and D, and this will be an ongoing event.”