[News] California prisons

News at freedomarchives.org News at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 6 15:23:14 EST 2004

This story is taken from Opinion at sacbee.com.

Editorial: Another report? No need
Existing reports tell the tale about prisons
- (Published February 6, 2004)
Memo to: Governor Schwarzenegger

Subject: Reports, old and new

Another day, yet another prison horror story. This time, it involves an
inmate who bled to death in his cell at Corcoran State Prison on Super
Bowl Sunday. Although he howled through the night and one guard asked a
superior if he should check on the inmate, apparently no one bothered
until the next morning. The inmate was found dead, in a pool of blood
that had drained out of his body and seeped onto the floor outside his
cell. The death is yet another graphic example of lethal incompetence
and neglect in California's prisons.

The question, governor, is what do you plan to do about it?

Earlier this week, you told a radio interviewer that you wanted to name
another panel to examine prisons. You now appear to be backing way from
that idea. That's good. Frankly, governor, you don't need a new report
on the subject.

In the past decade, plenty of reports have been written. Those reports,
now gathering dust in government offices around the state, document
waste, fraud, abuse and outright criminal conduct in the prison system.

Before you order up any new reports, here's a suggestion: Check out the
list of suggested readings below. Then, settle into a comfortable chair
this weekend for some extended reading.

You should begin with the recent report by John Hagar. He's the special
master appointed by a federal judge. His report depicts a prison system
dominated by the prison guards union and alleges criminal acts by some
of the Department of Corrections' highest officials.

That report should make it clear why the state simply can't afford to
wait for you to assemble another team of "experts." As Steve White, the
former inspector general for the Department of Corrections and now a
Sacramento Superior Court judge, says, a new "commission will simply
delay action already long overdue."

After you finish reading, you might want to spend a bit of time
considering who advised you to form an "independent commission" on
prisons. Was it the same advisers who counseled you to dismantle the
Office of Inspector General? If so, you should get yourself some new

The Office of Inspector General has consistently investigated and
reported wrongdoing within Corrections. Anyone who counsels you to shut
it down wants to stall reform in the hope that the prison scandals will
fade from the headlines, and that the public will forget.

If your advice came from legislators, check out who contributed to their
election campaigns. Chances are the contributors included the California
Correctional Peace Officers Association, the prison guards union whose
members have benefited handsomely from the status quo.

Corrections is bleeding money that the state doesn't have. Inmates and
correctional officers alike are in danger. There is no shortage of
information about these problems. What's lacking is the political will
to fix them.

You say, governor, that you want to stop "the corruption going on ...
the overspending ... the code of silence." If you really want to do
that, stop dismantling the Office of Inspector General and ask the
federal courts for help. Ask the courts to send in a monitor with wide
authority to help honest and capable prison administrators take control
of a prison system that has gone badly awry.

But first, take a few hours and do some reading. You won't find the
subject matter entertaining, but it certainly will be enlightening.


California's prison crisis: Recommended reading


This list includes investigative reports and audits compiled by various
agencies and institutions since 1994. It does not include more than two
dozen investigative reports by the state Office of the Inspector
General, many of which include allegations of criminal misconduct. Some
of those reports have not been made public, but you and your staff have
access to them.

* Draft Report Re: Departments of Corrections Investigations and
Employee Discipline; Federal Special Master, January 2004.

* Back to the Community, Safe and Sound Parole Policies; Little Hoover
Commission, November 2003.

* Survey of Educational Programs at California Department of Corrections
Level IV Institutions; Office of the Inspector General, July 2003.

* Management Review Audit: California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility
and State Prison Corcoran, California; Office of the Inspector General,
January 2003.

* California Department of Corrections: A shortage of Correctional
Officers, Along With Costly Agreement Provisions, Raises both Fiscal and
Safety Concerns and Limits Management's Control; State Auditor, July

* California Department of Corrections: Its Fiscal Practices and
Internal Controls are Inadequate to Ensure Fiscal Responsibility; State
Auditor, November 2001.

* Department of Corrections: Though Improving, the Department Still Does
not Identify and Serve All Parolees Needing Outpatient Clinic Program
Services, but Increased Caseloads Might Strain Clinic Resources; State
Auditor, August 2001.

* California Department of Corrections: Poor Management Practices have
Resulted in Excessive Personnel Costs; State Auditor, January 2000.

* Wasco State Prison: Its failure to Proactively Address Problems in
Critical Equipment, Emergency Procedures and Staff Vigilance Raises
Concerns About Institutional Safety and Security; State Auditor, October

* Prisons Industry Authority: Its outside Purchase of Goods and Services
is Neither Well Planned nor Cost Effective; State Auditor, September

* California Department of Corrections: The Cost of Incarcerating
Inmates in State Run Prisons is Higher Than the Department's Published
Cost; State Auditor, September 1998.

* Early Intervention Program: Flaws found in the 1997 Report On the
Benefits of Early Intervention; State Auditor, April 1998.

* Beyond Bars, Correctional Reforms to Lower Prison Cost and Reduce
Crime; Little Hoover Commission, January 1998.

* Prison Industry Authority: Has Failed to Take Significant Corrective
Action on Many State Auditor Recommendations; State Auditor, August

* Prison Industry Authority: Statutory and Cost Control Problems
Adversely Affect the State; State Auditor, April 1996.

* Boot Camps: An Evolving Alternative to Traditional Prisons; Little
Hoover Commission, January 1995.

* Putting Violence Behind Bars: Redefining the Role of California
Prisons; Little Hoover Commission, January 1994.

Rose Braz, Director
Critical Resistance
1904 Franklin St.,Ste. 504
Oakland, CA 94612
fax 510.444.2177
email: rose at criticalresistance.org

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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