Wednesday, April 30, 1997


Bryan Kingston, a Correctional Officer from California’s High Desert State Prison, has been named Correctional Officer of the Year by the International Association of Correctional Officers (IACO).

Kingston, 35, was nominated for the award by the California Department of Corrections after he was chosen as the Department’s Correctional Officer of the Year earlier this month. He was cited for his "tireless efforts and contributions to the Department" and for being "greatly admired, respected, and appreciated" for his work.

Kingston was picked for the international honor from 120 other officers nominated from throughout the United States and several foreign countries. He will be honored by the IACO at ceremonies in the nation’s capital in early May.

Kingston joined the Department of Corrections in 1986 and worked at the California Correctional Center in Susanville until transferring in 1995 to the neighboring High Desert State Prison. He played a key role in establishing the prison’s Investigative Services Unit, its evidence laboratory and various procedures for the Unit.

Kingston was part of a negotiations team that in 1995 persuaded a killer in a nearby community into surrendering, preventing further injuries or death.
"Bryan Kingston represents everything fine and good in a correctional officer," said Joe Sandoval, Secretary of California’s Youth and Adult Correctional Agency which oversees the Corrections Department. "His work is superior and his personal involvement in the community illustrates our commitment to serving the public in many ways."

In addition to his consistently outstanding work on the job, Kingston was praised for his active involvement with Susanville’s youth. Over the years he has volunteered with the Lassen High School baseball, Little League, Bobby Sox, Pop Warner football and other sporting events. He has also refereed high school football games for 16 years.

Thursday, April 10, 1997


David Anderson, an inmate convicted of second degree murder, escaped from his cell in the California Medical Facility at Vacaville in the early morning hours of April 10, 1997.

Anderson, 36, is a white male, 5'10 ", 150 pounds, with red hair and blue eyes. He has two tear drop tattoos beneath his right eye.

Anderson was convicted of 2nd degree murder, grand theft, receiving stolen property and robbery from San Diego County in 1981. He was sentenced to 16 years, 4 months to life in state prison.

He was discovered missing by correctional staff at 7:15 a.m. Thursday morning during the early morning meal release.

All local law enforcement, the California Highway Patrol, and the FBI are joining correctional staff in the search for Anderson who is considered to be dangerous. Anyone seeing Anderson should not approach him but should contact law enforcement immediately.

For more information please contact the California Medical Facility, Investigative Services Unit (707) 449-6561

Thursday, April 3, 1997


Youth and Adult Correctional Agency Secretary Joe Sandoval today announced that California Department of Corrections officials, working with the FBI, captured state prison escapee David Finney Wednesday night in Nashville, Tennessee.

"I want to commend the Department of Correction's investigators for their outstanding work in tracking down this dangerous and elusive criminal," said Sandoval.

CDC's Special Services Unit (SSU) had been tracking him ever since. When leads indicated Finney was at a hotel in Nashville, SSU asked for help from the FBI's local Violent Crimes Task Force. The FBI went to the hotel where Finney showed identification under a different name.

During his interview with the FBI, Finney bolted from the hotel room but the agents were able to pursue and capture him. During a search of the hotel room, agents found the identification Finney used to escape from the California prison. The FBI also found a police scanner, walkie-talkie and pepper spray disguised as a pager.

Finney is being held in Nashville pending extradition to California where he will face new felony prosecution. The FBI also is investigating Finney for possible involvement in other crimes.

Finney's escape history includes:

Escape from county jail after arrest in mid-70s

  • 1978 escape from Correctional Training Facility at Soledad, dressed as a Correctional Officer
  • 1979 escape from agents returning him to California after the 1978 escape
  • 1997 escape from R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility near San Diego.

Tuesday, April 1, 1997

CCC Makes One Little Cowboy’s Wish Come True - April 1997

Only in Susanville can you adopt a wild horse gentled by prison inmates.

Imagine being four years old and Grandpa and Grandma have promised you a pony for your very own. That is what happened to Jeff Bowers, the little cowboy from Klamath Falls, Oregon. Dressed in a new cowboy hat, boots, jeans and western shirt, Jeff and his grandparents left Klamath Falls at 3 a.m., Friday, March 7, headed for Susanville. They were at the prison corrals when the gates opened at 9 a.m.

Like other potential owners, they would have just two hours to preview 19 wild horses up for adoption.

A joint venture between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the California Correctional Center (CCC), this unique vocational program is in its tenth year. The brain child of then-Warden Bill Merkle and Correctional Administrator Bill Flatter, the program began in May 1987 and the first horse was adopted in August.

This is the first year adoptions took place at the prison. Previously, the newly gentled horses had to be trucked several miles from the prison to the BLM corrals near Wendel, California. By holding the adoption at the prison, the horses were less nervous and the new owners were responsible for transporting them.

On March 7, each inmate proudly put his charge through its paces. One inmate, using the round corral, demonstrated what his horse could do. The crowd included an excited four- year- old. Using only voice commands, the inmate stood in the center of the corral and verbally directed his steed to trot, walk, stop and back up. Then, to everyone’s surprise, he called the horse to him with a simple, quiet, "Come here."

Inmates are randomly assigned to the program. Most have absolutely no previous experience with horses.

The hands-on operation appears to teach the inmates patience and the importance of staying with a job until it’s completed. Pride and self-worth are evident.

The BLM uses a lottery-type system to determine the order of selection.

By early afternoon, the choices were made. Six horses were loaded into horse trailers and left the Center’s training corrals for their new homes. Six inmates knew their efforts had paid off as they watched their "project" leave prison grounds. One little four- year -old was a very happy cowboy.

About 500 horses have gone through the Adopt-A-Horse project since 1987. Almost all have been adopted, many by folks outside of California, according to BLM spokesman Jeff Fontana. Many of these horses have been gentled to the point they can be ridden.

CCC’s wild horse training instructor Tom Chenoweth is quick to tell you these horses are not "broken," they are "gentled." An educator by trade, Chenoweth is a cowboy at heart. He teaches a process called "limited resistance" or "resistance-free" training. The animals learn to be comfortable and relaxed around people. "It’s all based on trust," Chenoweth said. "The horse sets the pace. Patience is crucial. The idea is make the horse want to cooperate, not have to cooperate," he said.

It can take as long as three weeks before a wild horse will allow the handler to approach and touch it. An inmate must spend hours just talking softly, moving slowly around the animal and allowing the horse to get used to him. The inmate must prove to the horse he is not going to harm it in any way.

Every four months about 20 gentled horses are put up for adoption and 20 more wild horses are brought to the Correctional Center for gentling. That’s 60 horses per year available for little cowboys like Jeff Bowers.