The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) booked one inmate on a roundabout bus ride for a tour of the state.
Patrick Callahan, 51, said he was placed on a no-transfer list at San Quentin State Prison. However, in February, he was transferred without warning to a private prison, California City Correctional Facility (CCCF).
Callahan said he was never officially told in a classification hearing that he was going to be transferred. He said he was among a group of inmates uprooted and transferred to CCCF, despite having a job assignment and being enrolled in a college course at San Quentin.
Callahan said a corrections officer in San Quentin’s receiving and release (R&R) told him he was on the no-transfer list and should not be transferred. However, he later boarded a bus for a scenic, two-day transport across the state.
“I would’ve been transferred without notice,” said Callahan, if his housing officer had not given him notice. “I’m certainly not the first. They told me to pack at 10:30 p.m. the night before I left, and by 5 a.m. I was in R&R.”
“All of us (inmates) went to committee in September 2013; all of us had jobs,” Callahan said. “They (SQ/CDCR) wanted people who were programming to start prison over.”
“I’m very thankful to Patten College
for getting me back up here”
The stages of Callahan’s adventure took him from San Quentin to Soledad State Prison, to California Medical Facility (CMF-Vacaville), to Mule Creek State Prison (Ione), to Sierra Conservation Camp (Jamestown), and then to Deuel Vocational Institute (DVI/Tracy) where he stayed overnight. The following morning he left DVI to complete the first half of his journey, arriving at California City.
According to Callahan, the trip was smooth and inmates were respectful to each other. He said he did not attend a classification hearing for the two weeks he was at CCCF, and “it took me 10 days to get my property.”
“It’s a very restrictive program. Chow is run like a reception center,” said Callahan, referring to the dining policy at CCCF. He added that the administration wanted to keep things orderly.
Callahan said there are no programs at CCCF. He said inmates play cards, watch television, work out and walk around the pod. The day before leaving CCCF he said he was finally able to go to the recreation yard, which alternates on a day-to-day schedule.
For four days there was nothing to do at the prison, Callahan said. “It’s a glorified county jail, run by the state.”
Callahan said CCCF has classrooms with computers, but “there’re no students and no staff.”
Callahan’s sojourn lasted two weeks, before he was returned to San Quentin. “I got there (CCCF) on a Tuesday, and left on a Tuesday,” Callahan said.
Before departing San Quentin for CCCF, Callahan was enrolled in an intermediate algebra class through Patten College. He said he was in his second semester of class.
“Math was always my strong point,” Callahan said.
On March 11, Callahan was transported back to San Quentin, completing the second half of his journey. He said he was placed on a van headed for North Kern State Prison, where he spent one night. The following morning he passed through CMF-Vacaville, CSP-Solano and back to San Quentin.
Callahan did not anticipate his return to San Quentin any more than he did his departure two weeks earlier.
“When they (CCCF officials) told me to trans-pack, it was completely unexpected,” Callahan said.
Administrators at Patten College intervened to bring Callahan back to San Quentin so that he could complete his class.
“I’m very thankful to Patten College for getting me back up here” to San Quentin, said Callahan. “I’m glad to be back.”
Callahan said he never attended college on the streets prior to his incarceration. Asked if he will continue to pursue college when he paroles in March 2015, he said, “I think I will…I’m totally motivated by Patten College.”
He said that with less than a year to go, the time left on his sentence is “too short” to allow him to complete an A.A. degree.
Callahan is from the small town of Colfax, where he was a dishwasher for two restaurants when he was arrested.
CCCF is a private prison owned by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), but is rented by the CDCR and operated by corrections officers.
The CDCR is using CCA’s facility as a means to reduce its state prison population. A federal court has extended the state’s deadline by two years to meet a population cap. The state, however, must meet a series of benchmarks within that two-year time frame, the first of which is a cap of 143 percent of design capacity by June 30.
After the interview with San Quentin News, Callahan said, “The CO told me I was cleared to go to class.”