Monday, July 28, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Folsom hosts female inmates

Folsom Prison 306

PRISON DORM B at Folsom Prison houses 201 female inmates, who are currently helping set up Dorm A, which will take another 202. Photo by Julie Samrick

By
From page A1 | March 06, 2013 |

QUOTE: “I’m stuck in Folsom Prison, And time keeps draggin’ on…”

— Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash

For the first time in nearly 90 years Folsom Prison has a female inmate population. The women moved into the new Folsom Women’s Facility in January.

More than 151 female inmates have been transferred to FWF, with more arriving every week. Prison officials expect to be at capacity of 403 by late summer. The women came from the California Institute for Women in Corona and the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla.

The facility is adjacent to, but entirely separate from, the men’s prison.

“There is absolutely no co-mingling between male and female inmates,” said Lt. Stephen Zanini, the prison’s public information officer.

The FWF site was constructed in 1990 and had been a drug rehabilitation facility for parolees and level 1 inmates (on a scale of 1 to 4 with 4 being the most violent criminals) as recently as 2009 when budget cuts shut its doors. When the need arose for 400 additional beds for California’s female inmates, the state’s 33 prisons were canvassed and Folsom was chosen for its unoccupied facility.

Because of the building’s minimum to medium level security, the inmates chosen for transfer to FWF had to meet strict criteria. “They must be a level 1, 2, or 3 offender, with five years or less to serve. They must also be discipline free for at least the past year,” said Zanini. “We are starting from scratch and need a work force to help build FWF, so we can’t have any behavior issues.”

The women seem mostly happy with the move. Alicia, 63, arrived from CCWF in Chowchilla two weeks ago. With tears in her eyes she repeated, “I’m very thankful to whoever decided to do this.” She described her six years at Chowchilla, where she was often afraid for her safety, as crowded and chaotic. “Because everyone was asked to come here for having good behavior, there have been no problems,” she said. “And the staff and COs (corrections officers) are all so approachable.” Alicia is also grateful to be closer to her elderly parents, who live in Roseville.

Dorm B in FWF, comprised of three large rooms that share a common courtyard, is where the inmates will finish their prison sentences. Maximum occupancy is 202. The inmates work with prison officials to ready Block A for the next phase of 201 inmates. Each of the three open rooms has a television, laundry facilities, exercise equipment and individual lockers for personal belongings on the ground floor. The second level is an open dormitory with dozens of single beds, visible from the ground below. Unlike the men’s prison, female inmates are free to wander between the yard and their dorm room as they wish. And, except for “chow” time, their dress code is much looser than the men’s, for whom the CDCR prison uniform is standard.

While Alicia doesn’t have a paying job (only inmates who have at least a GED may earn $19 to $120 per month at various jobs; others must go to school), she has chosen to volunteer her time by replenishing supplies like soap and toilet paper, and she makes the orientation kits for new arrivals.

Risha, 34, came on the first bus from the women’s prison in Corona. While she said the staff is nice, she is eager for more programs to help pass the two years she has left to serve. It may have been more crowded in Corona, but I used to make $56 per month as a cosmetologist,” she said, adding that she hopes to help build Folsom’s cosmetology program. “I want to feel productive again.”

Passing the time will also lessen Risha’s heartache at being so far away from her two sons, ages 3 and 15, and her boyfriend. “They used to visit me every weekend,” she said.

Hayley, 29, has only 90 days left of her three-year sentence for drugs and robbery. She said she’s happy with programs like book club and a volleyball league that have already been set up at FWF. Hayley wakes each day at 3:30 a.m. to work at her kitchen job, grateful for the money she earns to buy things at the canteen, saying her job is an incentive to not get into trouble since the privilege of a good paying job can be revoked at any time.

As Hayley looks beyond prison, toward the life she’ll soon need to rebuild once on the outside, she echoed comments made by all the women interviewed, saying, “Prison pretty much saved my life.”

Comments

comments

.

News

 
County’s chief lawyer: No Brown Act violation

By Chris Daley | From Page: A1

General Plan workshop today

By Chris Daley | From Page: A1

 
Two growth control initiatives get green light

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

Sand Fire burns more than 4,000 acres

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Fatal accident in Camino

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Agricultural Crop and Livestock Report released

By Ross Branch | From Page: A3

 
35 people displaced in Tahoe hotel fire

By Tahoe Tribune | From Page: A3 | Gallery

.

Opinion

The balancing act: Toxic waste spreads

By Larry Weitzman | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
Bee-ing silly

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
.

Letters

Letter to Speaker of the House

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

 
GDPUD misinformation

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

At the crossroads

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Want more water?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Refugee crisis

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
.

Sports

Camp experience is ‘priceless’

By Mike Bush | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Speedway races cancelled

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

El Dorado doubles up on Pro Players

By Mike Bush | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Under the Scoreboard: July 26, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

Schedule: July 28 – Aug. 2, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

 
Roundup: July 26, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

Local spiker shines

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7

 
Sports Scene: July 26, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7

.

Prospecting

A beautiful day at Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony Farm

By Cathy Barsotti | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Foothill gourmet: Things get corny

By Donna Brown | From Page: B2

Bipolar Insights: From point A to point B

By Marcia Rose | From Page: B2

 
Cool time at Cowboys and Cornbread

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

As we were: Recreation district grows

By Ken Deibert | From Page: B4

 
Cantare names new director

By Cantare Chorale | From Page: B10

 
After 5 Club to meet

By Senior Day | From Page: B10

.

Essentials

Divorces

By Charlotte Sanchez-Kosa | From Page: A2Comments are off for this post

 
DUI Log: June 25-July 9

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

Crime Log: July 14-16

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

 
.

Obituaries

.

Real Estate

.

Comics

Rubes

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8

TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A8

American Profile Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Tundra

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Tuesday, July 29, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Horoscope, Monday, July 28, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Shoe

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Sudoku

By Contributor | From Page: A8