Friday, November 20, 2015

Fourteen Juvenile Offenders Graduate

                     Pine Grove graduation ceremony’s theme is “Life is what you make it”
PINE GROVE – Fourteen youths at the Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp (YCC) in Pine Grove received a high school diploma or General Educational Degree (GED) today in a major step toward their rehabilitation.

Nine students – among 60 youth trained to fight fires – received high school diplomas and five earned a GED or a high school equivalency while battling several blazes throughout this busy fire season including the Valley Fire in Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties that burned 76,000 acres and took a month to get under control.

Pine Grove YCC is operated jointly by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).

“This is priceless,” Tod Dorris, a fire captain working for CAL FIRE at Pine Grove YCC for 13 years, said. “The goal is to change behavior, to learn a skill. You can’t put a price on what goes on here, and what it can mean if these guys take advantage of the opportunities.”

When not working the fire lines, clearing brush or doing other maintenance projects throughout Amador County, the youth offenders are working on their high school degrees and attending classes from 5:30 in the afternoon until 10 o’clock at night.

”We know how busy these guys are, and how committed they need to be,” recently retired teacher Tony Kubiak explained. “This is an honor for them to be here. And as for education, this is a legitimate high school, with all the same requirements as any other California high school.”

Two students, Jose Lopez and Jesus Hernandez, were chosen by school administrators to speak at this year’s graduation ceremony.

Dr. J. Holmes Armstead Jr., retired professor from the United States Naval War College, was the guest speaker.

Pine Grove YCC in Amador County screens and accepts low-risk youth from other DJJ facilities. They range in age from 18 to 24 and typically include between 50 and 80 males at any given time. Fire training is provided by CAL FIRE and youth are certified to engage in wild land firefighting operations. Fire crews from DJJ camps perform approximately 189,000 hours of fire suppression in a normal year for the people of California.

DJJ operates an accredited school district, which provides youth offenders with the same high school curriculum in each of its four institutions they would receive in their home community. Youth attend school Monday through Friday. DJJ considers a diploma or GED a minimum requirement for parole consideration. From 2010-2014, a total of 935 youth earned a high school diploma or GED at DJJ’s four high schools. In addition, 614 students earned Career Technical Education certificates for vocational programs.

November 20, 2015

CONTACT: Mike Roots
(209) 296-7581

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Inmate Death at Kern Valley State Prison Being Investigated as Homicide

DELANO – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is investigating as a potential homicide the death of an inmate Wednesday morning at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP).

Inmate Gustavo Vital, 34, was found unresponsive in his cell at 1:50 a.m. Nov. 11. Staff immediately began lifesaving measures, and an ambulance was called. Vital succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at 2:20 a.m. Nov. 11. His next-of-kin has been notified.

Prison officials have named Vital’s cellmate, Jesse Serrano, 37, as a suspect. Serrano was received by CDCR on Feb. 14, 2013, from Los Angeles County to serve a 16-year sentence for using a hostage as a shield, with a firearm involved.

Vital was received by CDCR on March 19, 2012, from Los Angeles County to serve 33 years and four months for second-degree robbery.

Serrano has been placed in the Administrative Segregation Unit pending the investigation by KVSP, Kern County Coroner and Kern County District Attorney. The Office of the Inspector General was notified.

KVSP opened in 2005 and houses 3,819 minimum-, medium-, maximum- and high-security custody inmates. KVSP offers academic classes and vocational programs and employs approximately 1,800 people. For more information, visit

CONTACT: Lt. Marshall Denning
(661) 721-6314

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Inmate Back In Custody After Walking Away From Work Project

VALYERMO, CA – California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) officials announced today that Kent Lesporavsky, 43, was taken back into custody early Tuesday morning, November 10, 2015, approximately six days after he was discovered missing from a work project in the city of Highlands in San Bernardino County.

Following an investigation led by CDCR’s Special Service Unit and including the department’s Office of Correctional Safety and Fugitive Apprehension Team, as well as the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshal Service, Lesporavsky was taken into custody without incident as he was entering a spa on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Lesparovsky, normally housed at the minimum-security Fenner Canyon Conservation Camp near the community of Valyermo in Los Angeles County, was part of a crew that was clearing a flood channel when he disappeared.

Lesporavsky was serving an eight-year, eight-month sentence, for transport and sale of marijuana, two counts of evading or attempting to evade a peace officer while driving recklessly, and resisting or deterring an officer with a threat of violence.  He was scheduled to be released in 2019, but CDCR will now refer his case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution on escape charges.

In addition, Lesporavsky has been returned to a secure institution and removed from the conservation camp program.

Since 1977, ninety-nine percent of all offenders who have left an adult institution, camp, or community-based program without permission have been apprehended.

November 10, 2015

CONTACT: Lt. Kelsey
(209) 984-5291 extension 5499