Thursday, August 30, 2012

Inmate Attack of Two Correctional Officers at San Quentin Under Investigation

SAN QUENTIN – Condemned inmate Timothy Joseph McGhee, 39, attacked two correctional officers at San Quentin State Prison with an inmate-made weapon early today as they attempted to return him from the shower to his cell.

The two officers suffered cuts and wounds to their heads, necks and arms. They were taken to an outside hospital for treatment. Their prognosis is good.

Investigators at the prison have launched a probe into the attack that occurred just before 7 a.m. when the officers opened the shower door in the prison’s Adjustment Center. The inmate slashed and stabbed them with the weapon.

The Adjustment Center is one of three units in the prison where male inmates on California’s death row are housed.

McGhee was sentenced to death in Los Angeles County on January 9, 2009. He was convicted of first-degree murder in the gang-related killing of Ronald Martin on October 14, 1997; the June 3, 2000, killing of 16-year-old Ryan Gonzalez; and the November 9, 2001, killing of 26-year-old Margie Mendoza.  Jurors also found McGhee guilty of the attempted murder of four other people, including two Los Angeles Police Department officers. He has been on California’s death row since January 21, 2009.

There are 728 people on death row in California.

San Quentin, opened in 1852, is California's oldest and best-known correctional institution.  The prison houses 3,690 inmates and employs 1,644 people.


August 30, 2012      
Contact: Sam Robinson
(415) 455-5008 or
Terry Thornton
(916) 445-4950 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Condemned Inmate Kenneth Friedman's Death Investigated as a Suicide

SAN QUENTIN – Condemned inmate Kenneth Friedman, 58, who was on California’s death row from Los Angeles County, was pronounced dead at San Quentin State Prison early Sunday morning, August 26, 2012 at 5:24 a.m.  The death is being investigated as a suicide.  Friedman was single-celled.

Friedman was sentenced to death on December 2, 2005, by a Los Angeles County jury for the Oct. 26, 1994, strangulation murder of one-time drug dealer Peter Kovach, 26, and innocent bystander Ted Gould, 29, after abducting them from a Torrance telecommunications store where they worked. Friedman had been on death row since December 14, 2005.

Since 1978 when California reinstated capital punishment, 57 condemned inmates have died from natural causes, 21 have committed suicide, 13 have been executed in California, one was executed in Missouri; and six died from other causes.  There are 728 offenders on California’s death row.


AUGUST 27, 2012
(415) 455-5008

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Battery on a Peace Officer at High Desert State Prison during an inmate riot

Susanville – On Monday, August 21, 2012, at approximately 1:45 p.m., High Desert State Prison (HDSP), Facility C Yard #1, had 2 African American inmates engage in a fist fight.  The yard was ordered down and all inmates complied, including the 2 African American inmates involved in the fight.  Due to the location of the fight the initial responders, approximately 12, ordered a number of inmates to move out of the response path.  Two of the inmates being moved were Southern Hispanic inmates.  They were slow to comply with staff’s orders and move out of the way so staff could safely advance to the incident.  The 2 African American inmates involved in the fight were removed from the yard without incident. 

Prior to the yard resuming, 2 Officers and a Sergeant went over to remove the Southern Hispanic inmates from the yard.  One inmate was ordered to stand up to be escorted off of the yard and he stood up and faced one of the Officers.  The Officer ordered the Southern Hispanic inmate to turn around and submit to a clothed body search; the inmate refused.  The inmate also refused orders to submit to handcuffs. The Officer then ordered the inmate to lie down on the ground and the inmate struck the Officer in the face, with his fist.  The other Officer utilized his physical strength to force the inmate to the ground and injured his shoulder taking the inmate down. 

At the same time, 7 other Southern Hispanic inmates to the left of the officers, jumped up and attacked staff.  Then, a group of Southern Hispanics on the right and a group of Southern Hispanics from behind jumped up and ran for the staff line that had 5 staff members left.  There were 42 Southern Hispanics on the yard and they all charged the skirmish line, from 3 directions. 

Due to the prior incident, secondary response was located just outside of the facility gate and they entered Facility C Yard #1.  The 8 staff members on the yard were assaulted and utilized O.C. pepper spray, batons, C.N. and physical force, as well as a 40MM loaded with XM-1006 Direct Impact Sponge rounds.  The Officer with the 40MM fired 16, XM-1006 rounds into the advancing Southern Hispanic inmates.  Responding staff forced the Southern Hispanics back an additional 2 times.  In all, the Southern Hispanics charged the staff line 3 times. 

Due to the magnitude of the incident and the reasonable belief that the incident would result in great bodily injury or death, the C-2 Control Booth Officer fired 2 warning shots from his state-issued Mini-14 rifle into the C Facility Gym wall.  In addition to the Mini-14, there were multiple less lethal force options used by multiple staff members. 

All injured staff and inmates were taken to the Correctional Treatment Center (CTC) and 7 staff members and 1 inmate were transported to Banner Lassen Medical Center where they were treated and released for minor injuries. 

The case is under investigation by the Lassen County District Attorney’s Office and the Investigative Services Unit at HDSP.  The Office of the Inspector General’s Bureau of Independent review was notified.

High Desert State Prison, located in Lassen County, opened in 1995 and houses 3,696 minimum-, medium-, and maximum-custody inmates. The institution provides academic classes and vocational instruction and employs more than 1,275 people.

August 21, 2012
Contact: Lt. Nick Albonico
(530) 251-5100 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Corrections Officers are investigating a 60 inmate Riot at CSATF

Most injured inmates have returned to the prison from local hospitals

CORCORAN –Corrections Officers at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran (CSATF) are investigating two apparently related incidents that escalated into riot on August 17, 2012.

That Friday, at about 7pm, fighting broke out inside  the Facility-B dining room.    Inmates from rival prison gangs, assualted each other with makeshift weapons.  About 15 minutes later, more widescale fighting broke out inside one of the housing units.   In both cases corrections staff used tear gas grenades and 40mm rubber projectiles to stop the rioting. The uninjured inmates who were involved in the fighting were restrained and isolated.

In all, 63 inmates were involved in the fighting.  A total of 9 inmates were transported to local hospitals for a higher level of care as a result of their injuries which included puncture wounds, cuts, abrasions, and lacerations. One of the injured inmates had been thrown from the second story tier and suffered head injuries.  He was life-flighted , via helicopter to a local hospital.  Eight of the nine injured inmates have returned to the prison.  The inmate with head injuries remains in a local hospital.

There were no staff injuries during the incident.

CSATF houses minimum-, medium- and maximum-security male inmates.  The prison opened in Kings County in 1997, houses 5,491 inmates and employs approximately 1,900 people.

August 18, 2012
Contact: Lupe Cartagena
(559) 992-7154 

Fenner Canyon Conservation Camp Inmate Death is Under Investigation

Valyermo, CA - California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and CAL FIRE officials are investigating the illness and subsequent death of a conservation camp inmate.

Jimmy Randolph, 44, passed away on Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 12:30 p.m. at Desert Regional Hospital in Palm Springs, California.  His family was at his bedside. The announcement of an official cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy. 

Randolph was a camp laborer housed at the Fenner Canyon Conservation Camp (CC#41).  Prior to becoming ill on Saturday morning, August 18, 2012, Randolph had been assigned to the Buck Fire in Hemet, California

Randolph entered the CDCR on July 20, 2005 from Los Angeles County, California to serve an 8 year sentence for petty theft with priors.  He was scheduled to parole in October 2012.

Fenner Canyon Conservation Camp currently houses less than 150 minimum security inmates.   The camp’s primary mission is to provide inmate fire crews to CAL FIRE for fire suppression, pre-fire and hazardous fuel reduction projects in Los Angeles, Kern and San Bernardino Counties

August 19, 2012
Lt. L. A. von Savoye
(209) 984-5291 ext. 5499

Friday, August 17, 2012


CALIPATRIA- Officials at Calipatria State Prison (CAL) are investigating the death of one inmate and the injury of another following a vehicular accident on eastbound Interstate 8 on Friday, August 17 while CalTrans inmate work crews were working on the side of the road.

The fatality, who has not been publically identified pending notification of his family, was pronounced dead at the scene at approximately 11:50 a.m. on Friday, August 17 by Imperial County Fire Captain Jesus Guzman.

Prison officials have named the second inmate involved in the vehicular accident as Richard Warrick, 45.  The inmate was transported to El Centro Regional Medical Centro for treatment of moderate injuries and has returned to the institution.

Inmate Warrick was received by CDCR on June 14, 2012 from San Benito County and was serving a 3-year sentence for possession of a controlled substance, burglary 1st, and receiving stolen property.

CAL provides educational, vocational, re-entry and self-help programs that provide inmates life skills and work skills that can be used in support of their efforts at reintegration into society.

For more information about CAL, visit CDCR’s website at


August 17, 2012
Contact: Lt. Jorge Santana
(760) 348-6002 

Monday, August 13, 2012

“Onion Field” Killer Gregory Powell Dies at Age 79

His murder of a Los Angeles Police Officer was chronicled in book and film

SACRAMENTO -- The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) announced today that inmate Gregory U. Powell, whose murder of a Los Angeles police officer was chronicled in the 1973 best-selling book "The Onion Field" and a movie of the same name, died August 12, 2012, of natural causes in the California Medical Facility in Vacaville.

Powell, 79, committed to CDCR on November 14, 1963 from Los Angeles County, was serving a life sentence for the 1963 kidnapping of two Los Angeles Police Department officers, one of whom he murdered. Powell and his partner, Jimmy Lee Smith, had been pulled over by the two plain-clothes officers on March 9, 1963, for making an illegal U-turn. The two armed men disarmed the officers and drove them to an onion field near Bakersfield.

Powell fatally shot Officer Ian Campbell, but Officer Karl Hettinger managed to escape to a farmhouse about four miles away.

Powell was arrested the night of the murder, and Smith, the following day.

Powell and Smith were convicted of murder and sentenced to death, but appeals and a retrial stretched on for more than a decade. Their death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment after California's death penalty was ruled unconstitutional in 1972.

Smith was paroled in 1982, but he frequently was returned to prison on drug-related parole violations before dying of an apparent heart attack in a county jail in 2007 after being picked up for yet another parole violation.

Powell, like Smith, had been scheduled for release in 1982, but an outpouring of public opposition, including a 31,500-signature petition, led the parole board to rescind his release. He continued to come up for parole, but was denied each time – the 11th and last time on January 27, 2010. He was considered for compassionate release, which he opposed and the Board of Parole Hearings denied, on October 18, 2011.


August 13, 2012
Contact: Lt. Andre Gonzales
(707) 449-6509

Friday, August 10, 2012

Fire at the California Institution for Men (CIM) is contained to field

Chino – There is currently no threat to the surrounding community, inmates or structures from a field fire that was spotted at approximately 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 10 on the grounds of the California Institution for Men.  No injuries have been reported.

The field fire is located and contained to the southeast portion of the institution’s grounds.  Emergency personnel from Chino Hills Fire, Chino Valley Fire, Cal Fire and CIM Fire are on scene. 
The field fire is currently 60% contained. It has consumed approximately 25-30 acres.

When the fire was discovered, CIM was immediately placed on lockdown.  All CIM inmates are accounted for. The institution will remain on lockdown pending investigation into the cause of the fire.  Preliminary findings point to mechanical malfunctions of an institution vehicle driving near dry vegetation.

California Institution for Men, which opened in 1941, serves as a Reception Center for newly committed male felons from several Southern California counties and General Population Institution.  The Reception Center completes diagnostic tests, medical and mental health screening, and literary assessments for classification in order to determine inmates’ appropriate institutional placement. The General Population inmates are currently housed at Facility A, C, and D.  CIM currently houses 4918 inmates and employs approximately 1,900 staff.


For Immediate Release                
August 10, 2012  
Contact:Dirk Williams, Lt.
(909) 606-7068

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Attempted Murder of a State Prison Employee

CORCORAN – California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran (CSATF) investigators have launched an investigation into the attempted murder of a 38-year-old registered nurse, who is a six-year veteran of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

On Wednesday, August 1, 2012, at 5:25 p.m., the nurse was treating an inmate.  Without warning, the inmate jumped up and started choking the nurse, using his hands and the chain of the handcuffs.  Custody staff immediately intervened and, after their orders were ignored by the inmate, used physical force and their batons to release the nurse.

The inmate continued to resist the officers before they gained his compliance.

The nurse was taken by ambulance to an outside hospital where she was treated for injuries.  She was later released and is recovering at home.

Four officers suffered minor injuries.  Three were treated at an outside hospital.

The inmate was taken to an outside hospital for treatment and returned to the institution. The inmate, age 27, is serving a two-year sentence from Los Angeles County for second-degree robbery. He has been in state prison since May 8, 2012.

CSATF’s Investigative Services Unit is investigating this incident. The Kings County District Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Inspector General were notified.

CSATF houses minimum-, medium- and maximum-security male inmates.  The prison opened in Kings County in 1997, houses 5,491 inmates and employs approximately 1,900 people.


August 2, 2012
Contact: Lupe Cartagena (559) 992-7154
or Terry Thornton (916) 445-4950

In-cell Homicide Under Investigation

CORCORAN – Investigators at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran (CSATF) and the Kings County District Attorney’s Office are investigating the August 1, 2012 murder of an inmate.

Inmate Christopher Bradford, 43, is the suspect in the murder of his cellmate, Ralph Wilbur Baker, 64, who was pronounced dead at 3 p.m. on August 1, 2012.

Baker was committed from Los Angeles County on March 30, 1987, with a 32-year sentence for first-degree murder.

Inmate Bradford was committed from Los Angeles County on December 16, 1994 with a life without parole sentence for first-degree murder. He was re-housed in the Administrative Segregation Unit pending the homicide investigation.

The Kings County Coroner will conduct an autopsy.

CSATF houses minimum-, medium- and maximum-security male inmates.  The prison opened in Kings County in 1997, houses 5,491 inmates and employs approximately 1,900 people.


August 2, 2012
Contact: Lupe Cartagena
(559) 992-7154

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Inmate Walkaway from Julius Klein Conservation Camp Apprehended

AZUSA-- The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) took inmate Rafael Ortega, 20, a minimum-security inmate who walked away from the Julius Klein Conservation Camp on July 27, 2012, into custody after he was arrested by CDCR Special Service Unit (SSU) Agents on July 30, 2012. 

Ortega was apprehended at approximately 8:30 p.m. near Ontario, California and transported to California Institution for Men in Chino.  

Ortega was committed from San Bernardino County on October 12, 2011, to serve a three-year, eight-month sentence for possession of a firearm by an ex-felon. This matter will be referred to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

Of all offenders who have escaped from an adult institution, camp or community-based program since 1977, 98.7 percent have been apprehended.


Suspected Inmate Homicide at Calipatria State Prison

CALIPATRIA-- Officials at Calipatria State Prison (CAL) are investigating the death of an inmate as a suspected homicide. 

Luis Bracamontes, 43, was pronounced dead at an outside hospital at approximately 7:00 pm on Monday, July 30. He had apparently suffered a massive stroke.  

Prison officials have named inmate Alex Olmedo, 38, as a suspect in the case. Olmedo and Bracamontes had an altercation on July 23 and Bracamontes required medical help later that day. Inmate Olmedo has been placed in the administrative segregation unit pending the investigation.

Inmate Bracamontes was received by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) on March 3, 1995 from Los Angeles County and was serving an 81-year sentence for second-degree robbery and attempted second-degree robbery.

Inmate Olmedo was received by CDCR on March 30, 1998 from Los Angeles County and is serving a 25-year, eight-month term for carjacking, possession of a controlled substance, and disregard for public safety.
CAL provides educational, vocational, re-entry and self-help programs that provide inmates life skills, and work skills that can be used in support of their efforts at reintegrating into society.
For more information about CAL, visit CDCR’s website at


August 1, 2012
Contact: Lt. Jorge Santana
(760) 348-6002

Hollywood Producer Who Created College Program for Young Inmates Named “Volunteer of the Year”

SACRAMENTO-- At the 2012 Governor's Volunteering and Service Awards, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. last night announced Scott Budnick as the "Volunteer of the Year" for his "marked devotion" to helping California inmates get a higher education. 

The public knows Budnick as a successful Hollywood producer, but he is also an avid, long-term advocate for correctional education. He has dedicated his time, inspired other volunteers, and found ways to provide needed resources for students.

“Scott Budnick has gone above and beyond, giving hundreds of young offenders a chance to trade a seemingly hopeless path of crime that landed them in the criminal justice system for a path of opportunity,” California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Secretary Matthew Cate said. “His marked devotion has produced some real success stories.”

Although CDCR offers college courses in many of its 33 facilities, the Youthful Offender Program championed by Budnick with the help of staff at Ironwood State Prison in Blythe and the California Rehabilitation Center (CRC) in San Bernardino County created a unique learning environment where young inmates live in a dormitory set aside exclusively for those enrolled in college. In addition to the young inmates who enroll the day they arrive at an adult prison, approximately 600 CDCR inmates under the age of 35 and within seven years of parole are taking college courses at Ironwood, CRC, and California Institution for Men (CIM) in Chino. 

The inmates can earn a two-year associate degree in arts or business management through online classes offered by Coastline College and Palo Verde Community College. 

Last year, CRC recorded 17 Associate degrees and 207 course completions achieved by inmates. At Ironwood, 37 inmates received Associate degrees. Of the 75 participants who have graduated from the college program at CRC, only 3 percent have returned to prison. Some of the inmate participants have gone on to attend Loyola Marymount University, Morehouse College in Atlanta, and the University of California, Los Angeles, after their incarceration. Budnick has even taken a couple of inmate students with him on the sets of his movies “The Hangover” and “Due Date.”

In addition, Budnick supports the Prison Education Program (PEP) and the Prison Art Program offered to the inmate population by California Polytechnic University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo. During the 2011-12 school year, Cal Poly provided 70 PEP student volunteers to participate in the Volunteer Education Program at CIM. The students volunteer two hours per week during the academic school year to assist with academic tutoring, life skills, test-proctoring, study skills, and college orientation.

Budnick’s innovative and unique ideas, along with his nose-to-the-grindstone tenacity, helped initiate a new approach within CDCR.  He helped create relationships with local resources and even helped change the dynamic between CDCR and its own inmates. His ideas and commitment have helped create a different kind of inmate by offering a better path for young adults who may have felt they were destined for lives shuttling in and out of prison.