Cheryl Steed


What if criminals could transform their identities after learning to become caregivers and patient advocates?


Clinical psychologist Cheryl Steed leads one of the Gold Coat Programs at the California Men’s Colony (CMC), a medium-security prison in central California. Through the program, a carefully selected group of inmates–“Gold Coats”–are charged with assisting severely cognitively impaired inmates, including those with dementia, with daily tasks. Cheryl trains the Gold Coats and closely monitors their work through weekly meetings to address issues such as managing challenging behaviors and avoiding burnout. Peer to peer inmate caregiving and advocacy has been a part of the California and Louisiana prison systems for over a decade and includes hospice work. Prior to joining the CMC, Cheryl was a Psychological Examiner for the State Department of Education Special Services Diagnostic Team in Honolulu, HI.


Inmates help inmates through the Gold Coat program
OPEC Staff. Inside CDCR. 2015.

A Day in the Life of mental health professionals at CMC
Simas D. Inside CDCR. 2013.

Life, With Dementia
Belluck P. The New York Times. 2012.

When Prisons Need to Be More Like Nursing Homes
Ewing M. The Marshall Project. 2015.

San Luis Obispo - California Mens Colony
Goulding P. Prison Diet. 2012.

Lens: The Vanishing Mind
Heisler T. The New York Times. 2012. 

The elderly prisoner boom
The Economist. 2015. 

Prisons Develop Programs for Aging Population
Hand T, Steed C. NPR. 2012.

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Prison Psychologist