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Thursday, March 23, 2023

The prisoners escaped just 4 days after the opening of the women’s prison in Chino

The Prisoners Escaped Just 4 Days After The Opening Of The Women'S Prison In Chino

The first prisoner took only four days to escape after the new Chino Women’s Prison opened in 1952.

The second prisoner at the new California Institution for Women left for the hills two days later.

Admittedly, opening a new prison in 1952 was no easy task, especially with the prisoners escaping as quickly as they arrived.

Seventy years ago, CIW wasn’t really very secure because it simply wasn’t finished. Its earliest opening was due to a 7.2 earthquake on July 21, which shook the Central Valley, destroying much of the original women’s prison in Tehachapi.

In that Kern County town, a squad of two hundred inmates, state employees and Marines assigned to provide security, were forced to camp outside on the lawn for weeks after the earthquake. As soon as possible, state officials began to move a small number of prisoners to a partially completed prison in Chino.

And when those first 20 prisoners arrived, it didn’t take them long to notice the lack of almost everything—the ideal conditions for a quick escape.

Two other women escaped on August 18 by jumping into a state pickup truck and driving through an unsecured gate, the Associated Press Wire Service reported. “There is usually a guard at the gate, but the staff were still partly in tatters, and the rest were little scattered here,” explained superintendent Alma Holzschub. “The girls have been very nice and cooperative during the transfer,” she said.

The master of the escape was Jean Clarida, who was locked up for passing a bad check. A year ago, she had briefly moved out of Tehchapi to get her back quickly. The day after his arrival, he escaped from Chino on 18 August. She lived off the East Coast for more than a month during independence before being arrested in a police raid on a Chicago hotel.

Back in Chino, Clarida ran over a wall in December with two others who had been raised in San Diego, reported the Pomona Progress-Bulletin on January 2, 1953. In July, she was committed to Patton State Hospital only to commit a burglary. The car disappeared, probably for good.

The most prominent and infamous of the early escapees was 26-year-old Rose Marie Birdsall, who was imprisoned for murder in 1951 after killing her brother-in-law in San Antonio Canyon, north of the Upland. On January 1, 1953, he and fellow prisoner Dorothy Woods “walked through a hole in the fence” in Chino and disappeared, the Sun newspaper reported on January 11.

Independence from Chino for the pair ended after 10 days when they were captured at Monterey Park. A judge later added a year to Birdsall’s prison sentence for his escape at Chino and Tehachapi.

The strangest escape from the CIW was that of convicted murderer Annette Hernandez, who disappeared from prison in May 1972. It wasn’t until 2002, 30 years after the original escape, that coroner officers matched her fingerprints with those of the bellflower woman. who died by suicide in 1985 in Los Angeles County.

Despite the desperation of the escape, state prison officials were undoubtedly relieved that the new Chino Prison was nearing completion when an earthquake devastated Tehchapi.

It was in 1947 that Chino was chosen as a site for the prison. Tehchapi was targeted for closure because it was too far in the mountains to provide adequate medical care and its remote location made it difficult to prepare female staff members to work there.

Chino Champion of August 27, 1948, reported that the state purchased 115 acres of land from Chino rancher EH Phillips, later valued at $79,650. The area was chosen for its rich agricultural land – both the CIW and the surrounding men’s prison had extensive agricultural programs years ago.

On November 19, 1951, the foundation stone of the new Chino Prison was laid in a ceremony with state officials, the Progress-Bulletin said, with the goal of completion the following October. When it opened, the prison included a clothing factory where “inmates manufacture shirts, shorts, mattresses, and handkerchiefs for use in other state institutions,” wrote the Los Angeles Times, August 10, 1952.

Throughout the history of CIW, there has been a never-ending problem with its name. When it opened, it was on unincorporated land in San Bernardino County, north of the Santa Ana River and county line. Corona, in Riverside County, was actually closer than downtown Chino, so officials chose to call the prison the “California Institution for Women at Corona,” even though it was not in Corona.

Corona authorities eventually objected to it being recognized as a prison house, so prison staff invented a name for the area in January 1962. It became known as Frontera, which it says is Spanish for “new beginning”. Superintendent Iverne Carter.

And that hardly cleared things up. Frontera is rarely visible on a map – so you didn’t go to Corona to get to the prison, where you sent the mail, and didn’t go to Frontera, which didn’t get it, nor did you go to Chino, then about 4 miles north.

I remember years ago a phone call from a desperate reporter from another paper confused on a place called Frontera and a prison address that was not in the correct county. It took a while for him to clear things up.

Mercifully, the city of Chino took over land in later years that included the CIW, which in theory should have solved the problem of its location.

World Nation News Desk
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