Special Review of How Salinas Valley State Prison Handles Allegations by Prisoners of Staff Misconduct

by the Office of Inspector General (OIG)

In January 2018, the secretary of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and attorneys from the Prison Law Office requested that the OIG assess the prison’s process of handling inmate allegations of staff misconduct, “staff complaints.” The department allows local prison supervisors to conduct “staff complaint inquiries,” which are a preliminary collection of evidence pertaining to an allegation. Our review included a retrospective paper review of 61 staff complaint inquiries the prison completed between December 1, 2017, and February 28, 2018, and an onsite monitoring review of 127 staff complaint inquiries the prison initiated between March 1, 2018, and May 31, 2018. This totaled 188 staff complaint inquiries, which included 268 allegations. Our review also included our assessment of nine additional complaints submitted to the department by the Prison Law Office.

FULL REPORT (137pgs): Special Review of Salinas Valley State Prison’s Processing of Inmate Allegations of Staff Misconduct
https://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/2019_special_review_-_salinas_valley_state_prison_staff_complaint_process.pdf

FACT SHEET (6pgs): Special Review of Salinas Valley State Prison’s Processing of Inmate Allegations of Staff Misconduct
https://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/2019_special_review_-_salinas_valley_state_prison_staff_complaint_process_-_fact_sheet.pdf

Special Review found Salinas Valley’s Reviews of Allegations of Staff Misconduct involved: Poor interviewing techniques Poor evidence collection Poor report writing Lack of training Lack of independence: Display of bias, Inappropriate reviewers, Breached confidentiality

Salinas Valley rarely found misconduct from its staff complaint inquiries, and in the few cases where it determined that staff violated policy, it did not always provide corrective action—until we asked about it. The hiring authority determined that subject staff did not violate policy in 183 of the 188 complaint inquiries we reviewed (97%).

A reviewer’s rank of service had little effect on the quality of the staff complaint inquiry; we found the work across all ranks to be lacking in quality. Sergeants performed the poorest at 70% inadequate. Lieutenants, the most common reviewers, produced inadequate inquiries 52% of the time.

Below are excerpts from the OIG’s Full Report included in the OIG’s Fact Sheet:

2019_Special_Review_DEFICIENTInterviewSkills-Fact_Sheet-page-4

2019_Special_Review_DISPLAY Bias-Fact_Sheet-page-4


Electronic copies of reports published by the Office of the Inspector General are available free in portable document format (PDF) on our website at www.oig.ca.gov .

Office of the Inspector General, 10111 Old Placerville Road, Suite 110, Sacramento, CA 95827

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Why The U.S. Won’t Let the U.N. Look Inside Its Prisons

After a half-decade and a mandate by the U.N. to investigate solitary confinement practices, U.N. torture rapporteur Juan Mendez had to find a backdoor into an American jail. Today, his findings are released in a report.

In 2010, Juan Mendez was appointed Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Degrading and Inhumane Treatment by the United Nations. His mandate is wide in size and scope—to expose and document torture wherever it exists on the planet today.

Since the beginning of his mandate Mendez has made criticizing the overuse of solitary confinement a priority. In 2011, he issued a report stating that 22 or 23 hours a day alone in a prison cell for more than 15 days at a time can cause permanent, lasting psychological damage and can constitute torture.

This problem, he emphasized, is particularly severe in the U.S., where prisoners are routinely held under such conditions for months, years and even decades at a time. Many have never committed a violent crime.

Fast-forward five years. The U.S. government has yet to grant Mendez access to a single isolation pod in any U.S. prison. The clock is ticking. Mendez has a mere 20 months left of his term, and he has yet been able to substantiate his reports with a firsthand investigation.

“The U.S. was voted into the Human Rights Council—a position that carries with it an obligation to cooperate,” he says. When he speaks, Mendez wears a look of weary determination befitting of his post.

“I’m disappointed to still be waiting for the State Department to respond to my request. I’ve been waiting over two years.”

“That fact that he hasn’t received a response is contemptible,” says Laura Rovner, legal expert on prison conditions from University of Denver. “It puts the U.S. in the company of countries like Syria, Pakistan, and Russia that also have been unresponsive to requests for country visits.”

“Given the length of the delay,” Rovner continues. “You have to wonder about the reason, whether it’s motivated by concerns about what the Special Rapporteur will find inside these prisons.”

Then suddenly, last December, Mendez was allowed access to California’s Pelican Bay State Prison—a facility known for keeping inmates in isolation indefinitely in its Security Housing Unit (SHU).

This visit did not come about through the official channels Mendez had long been appealing to, however. Instead, he found a way in to one of the most notorious prisons in the country through a kind of backdoor.

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