A Whistleblower in New Folsom Prison

A Whistleblower in New Folsom Prison

By The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX

When Valentino Rodriguez started his job at the high-security prison in Sacramento,  California, informally known as New Folsom, he thought he was entering into a brotherhood of correctional officers. What he found was the opposite.

Five years later, Rodriguez’s  sudden death would raise questions from the FBI and his family. KQED reporters Sukey Lewis and Julie Small trace his story in their series On Our Watch.

This episode opens with Lewis and her reporting team meeting Rodriguez's parents and his widow, Mimy. They talk through the early days of Rodriguez's career and early milestones, like when he got an opportunity to join an elite unit investigating crimes in the prison. But it’s there where his fellow officers in the unit began to undermine and harass him.

Eventually, consumed with stress and fed up with how he was being treated, Rodriguez reached a breaking point at work. But even after he left the prison, his experiences there still haunted him. So he went in for a meeting with the warden of New Folsom. He didn’t know it would be his last.

After his son’s death, Valentino Rodriguez Sr. began to look for answers and found his son’s story was part of something larger.

In the final segment, Reveal host Al Letson sits down with Lewis and Small to discuss what this correctional officer’s story shows about how the second-largest prison system in the country is failing to protect the people who live and work inside of it.

Listen to the whole On Our Watch series here: https://www.kqed.org/podcasts/onourwatch

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