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Acting Calipat prison warden made permanent

January 04, 2002|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

CALIPATRIA — Gov. Gray Davis on Thursday named Silvia Huerta Garcia, acting warden of Calipatria State Prison since 2000, as the facility's permanent warden.

Garcia, 49, said she is proud to take the reins of the prison, a maximum-security facility with an inmate population that at 4,200 is larger than some Imperial Valley cities.

The appointment caps a long career in the state corrections system for Garcia that started when she accepted a position as a clinical social worker for the California Youth Authority.

In 1988 she moved to the adult prison system as a correctional counselor at the Richard T. Donovan Correctional Facility in Otay Mesa.

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She was promoted to program administrator at that facility and in 1993 she became a correctional administrator at the Calipatria prison.

In 1996 Garcia was promoted to chief deputy warden in Calipatria and in 1997 served for a time as acting warden before Larry Small was named warden.

In May 2000 Garcia was again named the prison's acting warden.

Garcia earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and urban studies from Occidental College in Los Angeles and a master's degree in social welfare from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Garcia said she has a vision for Calipatria State Prison based on "the rules and regulations that mandate how the Department of Corrections operates the prisons."

She said her goal is to maintain a safe, clean and well-run facility.

"We are there to ensure a secure environment and public safety by keeping (the inmates) incarcerated," she said.

Another goal is to maintain the safety of the inmates and prison staff.

"You cannot accept prison violence" as part of the daily business of running a prison, Garcia said.

Still, violence does occur in prisons. Recently an inmate was stabbed to death within the facility.

She said all efforts are geared toward minimizing violence.

Garcia added she is proud to lead a staff of dedicated employees, at least 50 percent of whom are from the Imperial Valley.

She said the efforts of all prison staffers allow for the facility to be run efficiently and in a safe manner.

"They are my strongest assets," Garcia said.

Born in Mexico and raised in San Diego, Garcia resides in Brawley with her husband and three children.

"I love the Valley and the people in it," she said, adding she sees the prison as part of the Imperial Valley community.

She said staffers volunteer in the community and inmates also serve in local communities. She said she plans for those efforts to continue.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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