California Institution for Men

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California Institution for Men (CIM)
Seal of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.png
Aerial View
LocationChino, California
Coordinates33°58′55″N 117°40′55″W / 33.982°N 117.682°W / 33.982; -117.682Coordinates: 33°58′55″N 117°40′55″W / 33.982°N 117.682°W / 33.982; -117.682
Security classminimum to maximum
Population3,135 (105.3% capacity)[1] (as of July 31, 2022)
Opened21 June 1941
Managed byCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
WardenJames Hill

California Institution for Men (CIM) is a male-only state prison located in the city of Chino, San Bernardino County, California. It is often colloquially referenced as "Chino". In turn, locals call the prison "Chino Men's" or just "Men's" to avoid confusion with the city itself.


Location of Chino in San Bernardino county, and San Bernardino County in California

CIM is a 2,500-acre (1,000 ha)[2] facility located east of Los Angeles on arid farmland.[3] Facilities include:

  • "The largest Level I inmate population within the California prison system" ("Level I" referring to "open dormitories without a secure perimeter").[2][4]
  • Three Reception Centers (RCs) which "provide short term housing to process, classify and evaluate incoming inmates."[4] Reception Center Central for medium/maximum custody level inmates "receives intake from several southern California counties"; Reception Center East "houses [medium/maximum custody level] Reception Center inmates with sensitive needs, Mental Health inmate/patients requiring an Enhanced Out-Patient level of care and a 100 bed HIV/CID unit"; and Reception Center West is for "medium level custody inmates" who are "waiting processing/transfer to programming institutions."[2]

Population and staffing[edit]

As of Fiscal Year 2006/2007, CIM had 2,327 staff and an annual budget of $232.2 million.[6] As of February, 2012 it had a design capacity of 2,976 but a total institution population of 5,266, for an occupancy rate of 177 percent.[7]

As of April 30, 2020, CIM was incarcerating people at 112.8% of its design capacity, with 3,357 occupants.[8]


CIM opened in 1941 and "was the first major minimum security institution built and operated in the United States."[2] It was the fourth state prison built in California (after San Quentin State Prison, Folsom State Prison, and the original California Institution for Women at Tehachapi).[4] Since the California Correctional Institution replaced the original California Institution for Women at Tehachapi,[9] CIM is now the third-oldest California state prison.

In 1970, a commercial diver training program started at CIM. In following years, the program's graduates had much success in finding jobs after release from prison and a recidivism rate of only 12 percent.[10] The program was "closed in 2003 due to budget constraints," but reopened in 2006.[11]

Inmate Kevin Cooper escaped from CIM in 1983. In retrospect, factors that may have contributed to the escape included conviction "under an alias," an undetected "history of escaping from jails and mental hospitals," and "a hole in a fence" surrounding CIM.[12] Three days after Cooper's escape, four people were found dead in nearby Chino Hills, and Cooper was later convicted of murdering them.[13] However, there have been doubts raised as to Cooper's guilt over the years.[citation needed]

In 1987, officials of the city of Chino opposed a plan to build a ward at CIM for inmates with HIV/AIDS because they "believe[d] it would threaten the community."[14] After "Corrections Department officials announced they wouldn't increase the AIDS inmate population to more than 200 men," opposition decreased.[15] The ward was constructed and received its first patients in May 1988, making it the second such AIDS ward in California (following one opened in 1984 at the California Medical Facility).[15]

Shayne Allyn Ziska was a correctional officer at CIM "from January 1984 through October 2000."[16] In 2004 he was arrested for helping the Nazi Lowriders (a white supremacist organization) "distribute drugs and assault inmates" inside CIM.[16] In 2006, Ziska was convicted "on charges of conspiracy, civil-rights violations and violent crime in aid of racketeering" and sentenced to "17 years in federal prison."[12] Ziska, Federal Bureau of Prisons #04299-748, is now at Federal Correctional Institution, Englewood, Colorado.[17]

Correctional Officer Manuel A. Gonzalez Jr. was stabbed to death in CIM in 2005.[12] Factors that may have contributed to the killing were prison overcrowding, understaffing, a failure to segregate the inmate in question due to a history of violent behavior, the inmate's lengthy stay at CIM, the inmate's access to a weapon, and the officer's lack of a protective vest.[12][18] In the aftermath of the Gonzalez murder, CIM instituted reforms.[12][18] The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in July 2007 agreed to pay $1.2 million to settle a lawsuit by Gonzalez's family.[19]

In 2005 and 2007, the state of California proposed building hundreds of new units for mentally ill inmates at CIM and at the nearby California Institution for Women; local officials opposed such plans.[20][21] A "general acute-care hospital at CIM" had received a license to operate in 1984, but in March 2006 the hospital operating room was closed and in July 2007 the plan was "to relinquish the license" because the facility was not functioning as a hospital.[22]

On August 8, 2009, a prison riot broke out at CIM during which over 250 inmates were injured, and which ultimately took more than twelve hours to put down. The cause of the riot is under investigation.[23] The riot broke out at 8:20 p.m. Although other races were involved the riot was mainly between Hispanic inmates and African American inmates. The prison's damages were severe, bathroom sinks ripped off the walls, fires broke out, and 50 inmates were taken to nearby hospitals. The riot caused a lockdown of the prison and six others in the area.[24]

In February 2010, the youth facility Heman G. Stark Youth Correctional Facility was closed. California authorities indicated they would incorporate the facility into CIM. As of 2017, it remains empty except for an apartment-style housing unit for CDCR employees.[25]

In August 2020, CIM's role as a reception center ended, and it was one of three former reception centers in California that were reclassified.[26]

Coronavirus outbreak[edit]

As of December 4, 2020 it was reported that the COVID-19 virus had killed 27 inmates at CIM,[27] and the virus had infected 172 staff with 789 recovered cases[28] 18 active cases and 1036 inmates had been infected and had since recovered.[29]

Notable people[edit]


  • Robert Biehler (1934-1993), serial killer; sentenced for several crimes before being released in 1966[30]
  • Seth Binzer (born 1974), musician better known as "Shifty Shellshock"; sentenced for 3 months for attempted robbery and for selling and using drugs[31]
  • Frank Bompensiero (1905-1977), mobster and hitman; sentenced for bribery and conspiracy
  • Rodolfo Cadena (1943-1972), mobster; was murdered in CIM[32]
  • Steven David Catlin (born 1944), serial killer; sentenced to 3 years for credit card theft[33]
  • Caryl Chessman (1921-1960), robber, kidnapper, and rapist; was sentenced for robbery; escaped in 1943
  • Kevin Cooper (born 1958), mass murderer; was sentenced for two burglaries under a false name; escaped in 1983[34][35][36]
  • Geza de Kaplany (born 1926), physician convicted of killing his wife; paroled in 1976[37][38]
  • Bobby Driscoll (1937-1968), actor; held in CIM's Narcotic Rehabilitation Center after being arrested as a drug user
  • Maurice Elias (1936-2016), actor better known as "James Stacy"; was sentenced for child molestation and failing to appear in court[39]
  • Ray Ferritto (1929-2004), mobster; sentenced for robbery with explosives
  • Alex Peter García (born 1961), heavyweight boxer; sentenced to several prisons for manslaughter, including CIM[40]
  • Timothy Joseph McGhee (born 1973), serial killer and gang member; sentenced for parole violation[41]
  • Joseph Međugorac (1929-1993), mobster known as "Joe "Peg Leg" Morgan"
  • Roman Polanski (born 1933), actor and director; held for a 90-day psychiatric evaluation after being arrested for rape and sexual assault of a minor[42]
  • Michael Rizzitello (1927-2005), mobster
  • Peter Robbins (1956-2022), actor; sentenced for sending threatening letters
  • Thomas D. Shepard (1925-2012), politician; sentenced for bribery and conspiracy; served 15 months[43]
  • Glen Sherley (1936-1978), imprisoned at several facilities for numerous crimes, including CIM
  • Craig V. Smith (1945-2012), musician; sentenced for assaulting his mother; was sent to several prisons, including CIM, before being released in 1976[44][45][46]
  • Charles Andrew Williams (born 1986), perpetrator of the 2001 Santana High School shooting[47]


References in popular culture[edit]

  • The 1966 novel Hard Rain Falling is partially set in Chino when the main character Jack Levitt is sent there after being convicted of kidnapping.
  • The prison is seen in season 2 of The O.C. when Ryan's brother Trey is released from custody to Ryan's newly adoptive father, Sandy Cohen.
  • The prison is a setting in Season 4 of Veronica Mars. Many past characters from the show are incarcerated there
  • The prison is a major setting in American History X,[49] as Derek Vinyard's personality changes as a result of enduring the prison culture and prison rape during a manslaughter sentence.[citation needed]
  • The 1955 film Unchained was filmed at CIM and included footage of actual inmates. It concerned reform warden Kenyon Scudder and represented his successful attempts to rehabilitate prisoners. The film is most famous for the song Unchained Melody.
  • In the 1998 film The Big Lebowski, the character of Jesus Quintana was said to have served six months at Chino for exposing himself to an eight year old.[50]
  • On the crime drama Numb3rs, suspects are often mentioned to have done time at Chino and met criminal associates there. In the episode "Sneakerhead", a suspect is threatened with incarceration in his home country, which "makes Chino look like Chuck E. Cheese".
  • The song "Murder Was the Case" by Snoop Dogg includes the lyrics "No more indo, gin and juice, I'm on my way to Chino, rollin on the grey goose"
  • In the film 2 Fast 2 Furious Brian O'conner references taking his chances in Chino, as opposed to going undercover with agent Dunn.
  • The film Shot Caller initially is set in Chino.
  • In the TV series Sons of Anarchy, many characters served time in Chino, including Opie Winston, Marcus Alvarez, Ernest Darby, and Nero Padilla.[citation needed]
  • In Thomas Harris's 1981 Red Dragon, protagonist Will Graham interviews a murder victim's son who served time at "Chino".[51]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: Monthly Report of Population As of Midnight July 31, 2022" (PDF). California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Internal Oversight and Research. July 31, 2022. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 5, 2022. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d California Institution for Men (CIM) (2009). "Mission Statement". California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Archived from the original on August 13, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-20.
  3. ^ Nicholson, Lucy. "My day in a California prison." Reuters. June 6, 2011. Retrieved on May 16, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. California's Correctional Facilities. Archived 2007-12-14 at the Wayback Machine 15 Oct 2007.
  5. ^ "Adult Facilities Locator." California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Retrieved on September 24, 2011.
  6. ^ California Institution for Men (CIM) (2009). "Institution Statistics". California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Archived from the original on 2009-08-14. Retrieved 2009-08-20.
  7. ^ "WEEKLY INSTITUTION/CAMPS POPULATION DETAIL" (PDF). CDCR. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 September 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  8. ^ "California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: Monthly Report of Population As of Midnight April 30, 2020" (PDF). California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Internal Oversight and Research. April 30, 2020. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 3, 2020. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  9. ^ California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. California Correctional Center (CCI). Archived 2007-12-16 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 29 Nov 2007.
  10. ^ Schexnayder, C.J. Diving into success: underwater training helps inmates get jobs. The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA), August 28, 2000.
  11. ^ DeRobertis, Shelli. CIM inmates dive in for a better future. Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, CA), December 1, 2006.
  12. ^ a b c d e Stockstill, Mason. Criminal Neglect: Years of indifference turned Chino prison dream into nightmare. Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, CA), July 23, 2006.
  13. ^ Susman, Tina. Jury urges death in gas chamber for Cooper. Daily Breeze (Torrance, CA), March 2, 1985.
  14. ^ Associated Press. Chino Officials Object to Proposed AIDS Ward at Prison. Daily News of Los Angeles, November 8, 1987.
  15. ^ a b Associated Press. State Sets Up Isolation Ward to Care for AIDS Inmates. San Jose Mercury News, April 28, 1988.
  16. ^ a b Leveque, Rod. Guard accused of aiding gang. The Sun (San Bernardino, CA), July 30, 2004.
  17. ^ "Shayne Allen Ziska Archived 2011-06-29 at the Wayback Machine." Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved on September 27, 2010.
  18. ^ a b Austin, Paige. Rehabilitating prison: Findings forcing changes at aging facility. Archived 2008-09-07 at the Wayback Machine The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA), September 18, 2005.
  19. ^ Leveque, Rod. Slain guard's family settles. Whittier Daily News, July 10, 2007.
  20. ^ City Council of Ontario, California. Resolution To Oppose Proposed Mental Health Facility At California Institution For Men - Chino. Archived 2006-05-19 at the Wayback Machine June 7, 2005.
  21. ^ DeRobertis, Shelli. Prisons' role to grow. The Sun (San Bernardino, CA), February 1, 2007.
  22. ^ DeRobertis, Shelli. CIM hospital to forfeit license. Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, CA), July 26, 2007.
  23. ^ "250 inmates hurt, 55 hospitalized after California prison riot -". CNN. August 10, 2009. Retrieved April 28, 2010.
  24. ^ "Orange County Register: Local News, Sports and Things to Do". Retrieved 2022-06-14.[not specific enough to verify]
  25. ^ "A history of housing youth at Stark facility comes to a close Archived 2011-07-20 at the Wayback Machine." Santa Barbara Sun. February 21, 2010. Retrieved on August 10, 2010.
  26. ^ Napoles, Marianne (2020-08-24). "Men's prison in Chino is no longer a reception center". Chino Champion. Retrieved 2020-11-25.
  27. ^ "California Institution for Men has 6th virus-related death -". Archived from the original on 2020-05-26.
  28. ^ 4 more inmates at California Institution for Men die from coronavirus
  29. ^ Real Time CDC COVAID 19 tracking website
  30. ^ Gordon Grant (December 30, 1966). "Charges Withdrawn in Double Murder Case". Los Angeles Times – via
  31. ^ Edwards, Gavin (March 15, 2001). "Q&A: Shifty Shellshock of Crazy Town". Rolling Stone. No. 864. p. 35.
  32. ^ Tony Rafael, The Mexican Mafia, Encounter Books, 2007. Page 284.
  33. ^ Emsley, John (2008-01-01). Molecules of Murder: Criminal Molecules and Classic Cases. Royal Society of Chemistry. ISBN 9780854049653.
  34. ^ O'Connor, J. Patrick (2012). Scapegoat: The Chino Hills Murders and the Framing of Kevin Cooper. Rock Hill, SC: Strategic Media, Inc. pp. 55–58. ISBN 978-0-9842333-7-3.
  35. ^ O'Connor, J. Patrick (2012). Scapegoat: the Chino Hills Murders and the Framing of Kevin Cooper. Rock Hill, SC: Strategic Media, Inc. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-9842333-7-3.
  36. ^ Cooper v. Brown, 565 F.3d 581 (2009), p.582
  37. ^ "Nationalist Chinese Officials Didn't Know DeKaplany Was A Murderer Was". Santa Cruz Sentinel. 1 March 1976. p. 11. Retrieved 28 February 2014 – via In one day, he was released from the California Institute for Men at Chino[..]
  38. ^ California Journal. Vol. 7. California Center for Research and Education in Government. 1976. The parole board is under fire for releasing Geza De Kaplany, San Jose physician [..]
  39. ^ "Hitting Bottom". People. 45 (19): 62. 1996-05-13. ISSN 0093-7673. Archived from the original on 2016-09-23. Retrieved 2022-03-13.
  40. ^ 'Brawler' hoping to gain boxing championship By Ken Peters, AP Sports Writer, The Paris News, July 5, 1986, p. 5.
  41. ^ "Police look for gang leader in woman's death". Los Angeles Times. 2001-11-28. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  42. ^[dead link]
  43. ^ "Preview unavailable". ProQuest. ProQuest 157650097.
  44. ^ Stax, p. 193
  45. ^ Stax, p. 196
  46. ^ Stax, 197
  47. ^ "CDCR Public Inmate Locator Disclaimer".
  48. ^ "Class Notes". Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  49. ^ Whitty, Stephen. "Down by Law." Entertainment Weekly. April 9, 1999. Retrieved on September 27, 2010. "The 25-minute black-and-white flashback begins with Norton waking up in Chino, angry and uncowed;"
  50. ^ Coen, Ethan; Coen, Joel (March 6, 1998), The Big Lebowski (movie), PolyGram and Working Title Films
  51. ^ Thomas Harris, Red Dragon (Dell Publishing: New York, 1981), 130.

External links[edit]