A team of therapists, correctional staff and incarcerated men are working to bring to light the impact trauma has on criminal behavior and emotional maturity, starting with one high-security prison – California State Prison, Corcoran. “This isn’t about making an excuse for behavior – this is about trying to understand,” said Dr. Stephanie Covington, a famed researcher, writer and lecturer known as a pioneer in the area of gender-responsive and trauma-informed services for women. “This isn’t about being soft – it’s about working smart.”
Newly appointed Office of Correctional Education Superintendent Shannon Swain has traveled the state as deputy superintendent since 2014, witnessing firsthand the positive benefits of correctional education. She’s a firm believer not only in educating students, but also in empowering educators to try new approaches, contribute to the OCE team as a whole, and to keep learning themselves. Swain took the time to share her thoughts on education, rehabilitation, and what it takes to create a positive learning environment, even inside state prison walls.
A lifelong educator and transformer of organizational cultures has stepped in to lead CDCR’s Division of Rehabilitative Programs (DRP) through a huge philosophical shift in the department. “I guess at heart I’m an academic,” said Dr. Brant Choate, who came to CDCR as OCE director in June 2014 following more than two decades in public and private education. “But I don’t want to be typecast as the education guy, because I’m really more of an organizational behavior guy. How do you take an organization at its current status, whether it’s good or bad, and take it to a higher level?”
Recognizing the benefits of theater for all people, the Actors’ Gang will soon offer a pilot program for CDCR correctional officers. The Actors’ Gang Correctional Officer Experience will be held over two days in Corona, where professional actors will work with officers in a first-of-its-kind program developed for correctional officers. The voluntary class is designed for California’s sworn correctional peace officers, with an emphasis on line officers, and is offered in partnership with the Actors’ Gang, California Endowment and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.
Josh Walton, incarcerated at High Desert State Prison, acted quickly when his young daughters’ pent-up enthusiasm began bursting over and they started chattering loudly and squirming about. But he didn’t look annoyed at all. Walton doesn’t get many chances to be an in-person dad alongside his wife, Christin. That’s why the Get On The Bus (GOTB) program is so important to him and his family, as it offers families the opportunity to spend a whole day with their incarcerated loved ones, at no expense to the families.