Salinas Valley State Prison approaches Soledad to partner on Camp Grace program


SOLEDAD — Salinas Valley State Prison’s new warden reached out to Soledad City Council to discuss a partnership for food and beverages for youth campers.

Tammy Foss, who has been the warden at the state prison in Soledad for about a year, sees opportunities for the city and prison to work together.

“We are a big prison and we have a lot of people that work there,” Foss said. “We do a lot of business here, but I don’t think that we come together as we should.”

In the past, Foss has worked with Soledad Police Chief Eric Sills on the Cops Giving Tree and with Soledad Mayor Fred Ledesma on fundraisers.

Foss and prison staff brought up Camp Grace, a program for incarcerated fathers to interact with their children on prison grounds. The camp was said to be an integral part of rehabilitation, which is the mission at California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The program for incarcerated fathers is in its third year and will have two Camp Graces this year. One of the camps will be on “A” yard and one on “B” yard. The prison is responsible for food and drinks for the youth while they are on the grounds.

“I’m asking the community to partner with us and assist us in that endeavor,” Foss said.

To qualify for Camp Grace, the incarcerated fathers have to be disciplinary free and cannot have been in trouble for a year. About 10 fathers and 10 to 14 children participate in the program.

The youth campers do arts and crafts, learn about their fathers and build life-size murals together. The murals are displayed in the Los Angeles area.

“It’s been one of the most beneficial programs I’ve seen since being a warden,” Foss said. “Or even throughout my career of 23 years. My staff has embraced it and the fathers have worked so hard to stay out of trouble.”

Ledesma was open to the idea of working together and wanted to meet with a representative from Salinas Valley State Prison on a monthly basis.

“I think this is just the beginning of a lot of great things that we can do with the institution,” Ledesma said. “There’s a lot of things that happen there in a positive way.”

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