Thu. May 23rd, 2024

By Donna Westfall – Sunday, January 16, 2018

After 32 years, Warden Clark E. Ducart retired and Jim Roberts took over at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP). It’s the only supermax state prison in the State of California. Located on 275 acres in Del Norte County. Established in 1989 and called a modern day Alcatraz.

The position of Warden in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is the person in charge of the prison. Reportedly, the best salaries for wardens in the States is found in New Jersey and California.

Here’s what is expected from our Warden. Simplistically he supervises all operations within the prison. Getting into the nitty-gritty…..

  • * He has to coordinate staff which includes over 800 officers, to maintain a safe working environment. Not necessarily an easy job to do when dealing with violent prone men. After all, they’re not there because of parking tickets.
    * He has to oversee job performance of staff (officers to janitors, to doctors, cooks and more).
    * He’s responsible for the management of funds.
    * He’s responsible for the maintenance of the facility and the welfare of it’s inmates.
    * He has to supervise security, make inspections, write reports, liaise with other professional staff like probation officers, social workers, religious personnel, and teachers.
    * He has to coordinate responses to crisis situations whether they’re natural disasters or riots.
    * He has to deal with inmates that are arranging for drug trafficking, arranging for sex trafficking and even murder; in addition to manufacturing and carrying weapons….in prison.

In other words, he has to manage a “city” if you will of the most devious and dangerous criminal minds spending 24 hours a day plotting and planning to make their “city” unsafe and unsecure by being disruptive.

Supermax holding the “worst of the worst” criminals. Dealing with the criminal mind is a set of problems that most of us don’t want to deal with. That’s why so much of our tax dollars are spent housing them, containing them and trying to maintain a safe and secure environment for those watching after them and taking care of their needs.

Security Housing Unit (The SHU) – over 500 inmates were housed in the SHU for over a decade. This means solitary confinement for 22 .5 hours a day or more which can drive a sane person crazy. Irreversible psychological effects can be done in 15 days of solitary confinement. Some have called it a form of torture. Others claim, if you do the crime, then do the time including solitary.

The last riot (March 24, 2017) had 90 inmates attacking prison guards. It’s amazing that only 8 guards and 7 inmates were taken to Sutter Coast Hospital. The riot started between 2 inmates fighting. The only way they could stop the riot was with the use of guns and chemical agents. 5 inmates were treated for gun shot wounds.

October 24, 2017 – Oprah Winfrey visits the SHU and speaks to some inmates asking them what they do with their time in the tiny, windowless cells. Answers: read, exercise

Solitary was intended to reduce gang violence. This is what our warden has in the way of gangs: Mexican Mafia, Aryan Brotherhood, Texas Syndicate and the Black Guerilla family plus subsets or underlings of each group.

Anthony Gangi, host of Tier Talk calls Oprah’s message a political left side message. He says, “If you have a threat to your environment, then solitary confinement is a needed tool. Otherwise, what do you do with the threat?” He relates it to public schools. If there’s a bully, how can one feel safe to learn when they are always feeling threatened. You have to deal with the bully and remove the threat. Same with prisons.

And those are some of the things that Warden Jim Roberts needs to handle because he has to deal with men that show absolutely no concern for human life.

But, because of legislation, prisons are having to change and prisoners are being geared up for release.


8 thoughts on “There’s a new warden at the prison”
  1. Obviously the writer of this article doesn’t have a clue about this prison. You may want to talk with an officer who has boots on the ground daily. You think March 24, 2017 was a big riot? Look up the riot that occurred in 2000 where there was 300 inmates rioting and refusing to get down. There were no staff injuries then with 1 inmate casualty .

    The staff now days appear to be undertrained hence people getting hurt at this latest riot. Pelican Bay is no longer a superMax prison it has taken one half the security housing units and turned it into level 2. You did not indicate where the 90 inmate riot was occurring was on the yard or down in the shu what was the cause of the riot? And how did that many staff get injured? Were weapons recovered?

    The warden is the reflection on how a prison will run. If he goes by the book the prison will be much safer for staff. If he is a liberal idiot like the former warden the prison will become more dangerous for staff.

  2. I need to speak with a warden on the behalf of my brother D’Angelo Anderson who was beaten a couple of days ago by the police and our family was not aware of it or informed or called.

  3. Changes being made need to be balanced..and they are not. We need to find the balance between safety and security and rehabilitation

    1. Do be fair, we haven’t met or interviewed the new warden, although I did call and
      ask for a call back from one of his staff to get his picture and more info. Never got
      a call back.

  4. One should read “23/7: Pelican Bay Prison and the Rise of Long-Term Solitary Confinement” by Keramet Reiter, published by Yale University Press in 2016.

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