CDCR is putting its Security Threat Group “concept paper” [the document that outlines their new policies for the SHU, gang validation and step-down program] into the revised budget. They are now calling this document their “blueprint.”
There are many reasons why this document should not be a part of the revised budget.
The budget process is not transparent; there are few hearings, the process goes quick (next two weeks).
SHU housing is the most expensive prison housing for non-medical, non-mental health prisoner/patients. There is no reason to believe that the policies in the “blueprint” will result in reduced CDCR budget needs. To the contrary, the policies will greatly expand the net of prisoners eligible for SHU housing by providing for the increase in the numbers and kinds of “gangs” which can be included. Second, the “blueprint” fails to distinguish between an “act” which justifies administrative detention and “mere membership” without any gang-related activity. When we have asked CDCR officials whether the new policies will result in fewer people being sent to the SHU, we did not receive an affirmative answer. We are concerned that there will be an increase in prisoners housed in the SHU, with the concomitant increase in cost. The legislature should not blindly adopt CDCR’s expensive proposal in this budget bill.
Finally, injecting the “blueprint” into the budget at this point, without any meaningful connection to the budget process, violates the democratic process. This is a controversial policy issue, and not a budget issue. After last year’s hunger strike, which brought to light the horrendous conditions of solitary confinement in the SHU, and which prisoners may be forced to endure for decades, it behooves us to fully examine a range of solutions and reforms. Other approaches to the issue of gangs in prison, such as the prisoners’ counter-proposal based on an earlier CDC practice, and ideas suggested in the Prison Law Office (PLO) and mediation team’s documents, deserve serious consideration.
Substantive corrections policy should not be enacted into law without going through the established policy committee process. After the negative response to last year’s process of quietly slipping realignment into the budget bill, we had understood that this sort of process would not reoccur this term.
Visits, faxes and phone calls to the California State Budget Committee Members listed below are needed. Tell them to NOT let CDCR get away with this underhanded tactic.
CALIFORNIA STATE BUDGET COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Contact Assembly Member Bob Blumenfield
P.O. Box 942849, Room 6026, Sacramento, CA 94249-0040; (916) 319-2040
6150 Van Nys Blvd, Suite 305, Van Nuys, CA 91401; (818) 904-3840
Contact Assembly Member Gilbert Cedillo
P.O. Box 942849, Room 5119, Sacramento, CA 94249-0045; (916) 319-2045
360 West Avenue 26, Suite 121 & 122, Los Angeles, CA 90031; (323) 225-4545
Contact Senator Loni Hancock
State Capitol, Room 2082, Sacramento, CA 95814-4900; (916) 651-4009
1515 Clay Street, Suite 2202, Oakland, CA 94612; (510) 286-1333
Contact Senator Mark Leno
State Capitol, Room 5100, Sacramento, CA 95814-4900; (916) 651-4003
455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 14800, San Francisco, CA 94102; (415) 557-1300
3501 Civic Center Drive, Suite 425, San Rafael, CA 94903; (415) 479-6612