This installment of Unlocking History more closely examines the seeds of rehabilitation planted even before California became a state. This is the first of a multi-part series on the maritime history of the state prison system.
CDCR employees making their way to work often see deer and other game animals along their route or at their workplace. Enterprise Information Services employees in Rancho Cordova sidestep droppings on their way into the office while employees in other rural areas often find themselves waiting for game animals to slowly meander across a road. One of those game animals – the wild turkey – isn’t native to the state. In fact, its introduction to California was part of a coordinated effort. In this installment of Unlocking History, we’re talking turkey.
Bandits of the Old West were the stuff of legends and penny novels, many of them ending up as repeat offenders or hanging at the end of a rope. There were exceptions such as one notorious stagecoach robber who chose to take advantage of San Quentin’s rehabilitative job training program – Black Bart. According to the Library of Congress, Black Bart robbed 28 stagecoaches between 1877 and 1883. He was apprehended on Nov. 12, 1883, and four days later he pleaded guilty. Various reports place him between 50 and 55 years old at the time of his arrest. He was sentenced to eight years in San Quentin. By all accounts, he was a model inmate and was paroled in 1888.
Institutions for young offenders sparked the need for more oversight, resulting in the creation of the California Youth Authority, which eventually became the Division of Juvenile Justice. When females were just breaking through barriers to become correctional officers in male prisons, a woman was named to head the youth authority in 1976. It’s believed she was the first woman in the nation to lead a statewide prison system. The is the fourth and final part in the series.
With the closure of the two previous reform schools in San Francisco and Marysville, the state established two new schools using what were considered modern approaches at the time. One school was opened in the southern part of the state and the other in the north. In this installment of the evolution of the state’s efforts to reform young offenders, Inside CDCR takes a closer look at those schools and their incarcerated wards.
The first two reform schools were not Whittier and Preston, but San Francisco and Marysville. As we continue the series examining the history of the Division of Juvenile Justice, we look more closely at those early attempts. This is the second part of the series.