Status of CDCR’s New Regulations

On December 28, 2011, two members of Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity’s mediation team spoke with Undersecretary Terri McDonald about the status of the new regulations on gang validation/SHU classification policies and procedures.

Undersecretary McDonald stated the following:

  1. CDCR is changing to a behavior-based policy about SHU consignment, so that prisoners could be designated as members of “security threat groups” without being sent to the SHU.  Others currently in SHU who have not had behavior issues could be returned to the general population.  It remains to be seen how broadly CDCR will define “behavior.”
  2. In addition, CDCR is designing a 4-step “stepdown program” designed for exiting gang members.  Step 1 is high security and step 4 is transition to general population.  Debriefing is not required to qualify for this program.
  3. CDCR has drafted a “concept paper” about these new policies, which it intends to send to its national experts in early January.  CDCR did not adopt the prior recommendations of the 2007 experts’ report, mostly because of cost.  CDCR’s concept paper will not be available to prisoners and their advocates until after the experts weigh in.
  4. CDCR hopes to hear back from these experts by late January or early February.
  5. CDCR will then revise its concept paper and send it to “stakeholders” for feedback.
  6. Stakeholders include such groups as legislators, law enforcement leaders in the community who work with gangs, the Prison Law Office and the mediation team.
  7. After hearing from the stakeholders, CDCR will then turn its concepts into detailed regulations.
  8.  Then CDCR will propose these changes officially through the public hearing process, negotiating with unions, etc.  McDonald also stated that the Castillo case would have to be factored in, so that someone coming up for a six year review doesn’t lose ground with the new provisions.  All of this will take time.
  9. The status of individual prisoners who are currently in SHU will not be reviewed until all of this has happened, other than those who are up for annual review by the ICC.
  10. The stepdown program can be implemented sooner, as it does not involve policy changes.  McDonald gave an example of prisoners going to an “integrated yard,” composed of prisoners affiliated with enemy gangs, to see if they can get along.
  11. She cautioned that there will be no large-scale exodus from the SHUs.  They are concerned that, if they move too fast and violent incidents occur, the entire reform process will be destroyed.
  12. Although the process will be slow, she stated that CDCR is committed to reworking its validation procedures, making SHU consignment behavior-based, opening the stepdown program and re-evaluating all current SHU occupants when the new regulations on validation and SHU placement are in place.
  13. Regarding the specific promises that Scott Kernan negotiated as part of demand #5 (calendars, hobby items, sweats, etc), McDonald states that they have all been accomplished already with the exception of the chin-up bars, because they involve some expensive structural changes, and the photographs, which are happening over time, when prisoners get their ICC reviews.  She states that these items are not privileged-based.
  14. CDCR officials who are involved are George Giurbino (who has retired but will remain on contract with CDCR for this purpose), Suzan Hubbard and Richard Subia.  Hubbard and Giurbino will be on the panel reviewing individual prisoners’ cases once the new regulations are rolled out.

Although the Undersecretary’s comments do not provide all of the detail we need, this information is helpful in general terms.  We will provide more information as we learn it.

11 thoughts on “Status of CDCR’s New Regulations

  1. The changes sound positive. Thank you SO much for providing information.
    I pray we move toward a more compassionate, rational policy.

    • I sure hope they keep their word, it will be so nice to touch and hold our loved one’s once again. So true the CDC needs to be monitored closley. hopefully this time they act in good faith, we all just need to stay in prayer and have theirs hearts changed. Thanks for the info and great job you all do.

  2. This news is hopeful but the CDCR, as I’m sure you know, is not to be trusted. It might be useful to assemble your own team of experts to counter any conclusions of theirs with which you don’t agree. As you may also know, the most successful hunger strike in history was the Irish one in 1981, which cost 10 lives but produced the desired results. Men went on strike at 2-week intervals so that the news of their condition would be spread out over time. An earlier strike, in which only one man died, failed to produce any results. I say this only in case it should turn out that the CDCR is not acting in good faith. What would motivate non-political prisoners to make such a sacrifice? Perhaps only the abolition of all SHUs, no matter what the crime, plus short sentences and very good rehab programs on the Dutch model. Maybe these are later objectives. Meanwhile, major congratulations for this effort.

  3. Pingback: California Considers New Rules for Solitary Confinement in State Prisons « Solitary Watch

  4. I believe nothing they say at this point..My husband was just assaulted by the guards due to their negligence of opening two cell doors at one given time…They are setting them up for failure every chance they get…I believe action speaks louder than mere words…I will remain hopeful that a resolution to the torture they endure daily can be rectified.

  5. What happened to Scott Kernan (who was the CDCR Undersecretary during earlier negotiations and who testified before the legislature in August as the CDCR Undersecretary)? Was he replaced? Or does CDCR have more than one Undersecretary?

  6. I see no basis for the continued operation of these units. This is mere foot-dragging in order to initiate superficial changes that lead to an eventual replacement of the reasons prisoners are placed in the SHUs, without altering the fact that these torture units will be filled. There are no valid reasons or legal justifications for solitary confinement torture.

  7. I have to shake my head at the part about an “integrated yard” to see if the prisoners they might consider letting back in GP can “get along”.
    For God sakes,do they all “get along” in GP?
    This just makes me think they will set them up to fail and then say that this is why they are in shu untis.
    I really hope the prisoners can agree to play the game right back at them and get along just like best friends while under observation.They are using solidarity thus far with regard to the hunger strike(s).
    I wonder how long it will be before we actually see the step down program in effect and not just being considered,reviewed,discussed,etc…?

  8. I hope that the affected prisoners will consider asking their friends and family to address SHU as a matter of taxation without representation … no one should be forced to have their tax dollars to go towards torturing someone they love. I’ve written a bit about the subject at the federal level on my blog – – but it seems that taxation without representation could/should apply at the state level, too. Wishing the strikers success!

  9. Pingback: Reflecting on the CA Hunger Strike & the Struggle Forward: An Interview With Antonio Guillen, Pelican Bay SHU prisoner & hunger strike representative | Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

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