While CDCR requires annual Diversity in the Workplace training, the department is delving even deeper into creating a positive, accepting, diverse workforce through an innovative pilot program. The Capitol Cohort Pilot for Government Alliance on Race & Equity (GARE) has selected key individuals in the department to gather information and craft ways to diversify the workforce.
A violent gang with ties to state prisons was targeted in a massive multi-agency raid dubbed Silent Night that reached across 11 California counties and two other states in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 14. Two of those netted were already in prison at Pelican Bay, charged with directing their criminal operatives through the use of contraband cell phones, with the gang’s epicenter in Woodland. In all, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office, 28 are facing charges ranging from drug trafficking to weapons. The FBI, CDCR’s Office of Correctional Safety and the Woodland Police Department led the months-long investigation.
On April 18, 1906, a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay area. The city and many of the surrounding communities were left in ruins and some unscrupulous types took advantage of the confusion and chaos. Meanwhile, the sturdily built San Quentin State Prison was relatively unscathed but the jolt certainly caused a scare among staff and inmates.
For over 150 years, California’s prison system has had to adapt to new media. In the early 1940s, San Quentin Warden Clinton T. Duffy wired cells for radios. But before movies and television sets were commonplace in prisons, the department grappled with the notion of allowing a filmmaker into the prison as early as 1897. Convicted murderer Theodore Durrant, dubbed “Demon of the Belfry” by the press, was due to be executed at San Quentin. To help raise funds for his defense, Durrant’s parents contracted with the operator of an animatoscope to film the inmate. The family charged admission for this early film to raise money for his defense as his appeal was before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1895, Durrant was convicted of murdering two young women and hiding their bodies in a church belfry and a closet. His trial went on for years, garnering headlines and multiple pages of coverage.
Spiritualism and attempts to communicate with the dearly departed surged in popularity during and shortly after World War I with some of its more nefarious practitioners ending up in state penitentiaries. The case of a clairvoyant criminal ring involving fraudulent sales of radium mining stock, tall tales told by a smooth-talking mystic and costume changes reads more like a movie than a bit of history.