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Friday, September 19, 2014

California Corrections Officers Honored For Overcoming Odds, Saving Others

CBS 13 State correctional officers were honored for their work in one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.

Many of the recipients are considered heroes for not only overcoming incredible odds, but also saving others.

Working as a correctional officer or supporting staff in the California state prison system is like sitting on a powder keg. They supervise an unpredictable population, some with strong ties to street gangs.

Men and women like Ney Vencer were recognized by state officials for their bravery and close calls with death.

“Things can happen at anytime and that’s what we do,” Vencer said.

Last year, locked behind the barbed-wire covered walls at California state prison in Sacramento, Vencer says he was suddenly attacked by an inmate armed with a shiv.

“A daily routine that you use everyday and you can’t control that when things happen,” he said.

As he fought the inmate, he sustained life threatening injuries to his throat, and several officers came to his rescue.

These officers, turned battle buddies were able to get the inmate off of Vencer, saving his life. They received the gold star for bravery, while Vencer earned the medal of valor for fighting back and never giving up. continue reading...

How Gangs Took Over Prisons

The AtlanticOn a clear morning this past February, the inmates in the B Yard of Pelican Bay State Prison filed out of their cellblock a few at a time and let a cool, salty breeze blow across their bodies. Their home, the California prison system’s permanent address for its most hardened gangsters, is in Crescent City, on the edge of a redwood forest—about four miles from the Pacific Ocean in one direction and 20 miles from the Oregon border in the other. This is their yard time.

Most of the inmates belong to one of California’s six main prison gangs: Nuestra Familia, the Mexican Mafia, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Black Guerrilla Family, the Northern Structure, or the Nazi Lowriders (the last two are offshoots of Nuestra Familia and the Aryan Brotherhood, respectively). The inmates interact like volatile chemicals: if you open their cells in such a way as to put, say, a lone member of Nuestra Familia in a crowd of Mexican Mafia, the mix can explode violently. So the guards release them in a careful order.

“Now watch what they do,” says Christopher Acosta, a corrections officer with a shaved head who worked for 15 years as a front-line prison guard and now runs public relations for Pelican Bay. We are standing with our backs to a fence and can see everything.

At first, we seem to be watching a sullen but semi-random parade of terrifying men—heavily tattooed murderers, thieves, and drug dealers walking past one of five casual but alert guards. Some inmates, chosen for a strip search, drop their prison blues into little piles and then spin around, bare-assed, to be scrutinized. Once inspected, they dress and walk out into the yard to fill their lungs with oxygen after a long night in the stagnant air of the cellblock. The first Hispanic inmate to put his clothes on walks about 50 yards to a concrete picnic table, sits down, and waits. The first black inmate goes to a small workout area and stares out at the yard intently. A white guy walks directly to a third spot, closer to the basketball court. Another Hispanic claims another picnic table. Slowly it becomes obvious that they have been moving tactically: each has staked out a rallying point for his group and its affiliates. continue reading...

Missouri prison supervisor admits trying to cover up guard attack on inmate

APA lieutenant at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield is facing up to three years in prison after admitting that he persuaded an inmate not to report being assaulted by a prison guard.

Federal prosecutors say 42-year-old James Myrick, of Nixa, pleaded guilty Wednesday. He admitted that he was present when a guard hit inmate Shawn Springer, who had been in a dispute with the guard's wife.

Myrick said he offered Springer a better cell if he didn't tell anyone about the assault. Springer then told a nurse he hit his head while cleaning his bunk.

After Springer discussed the injury with a psychologist, Myrick wrote a memo that claimed Springer's head injury was pre-existing, which was later contradicted by staff members.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Stockton warden reassigned to Folsom Prison - News - recordnet.com - Stockton, CA

The acting warden of the nation’s largest prison health care facility on the outskirts of Stockton has been reassigned to Folsom State Prison, a switch that comes amid ongoing criticism of conditions at the state institution from a prisoner advocacy group.
But Acting Warden Ron Rackley, 48, said those issues have nothing to do with his decision to accept another post.
Rackley leaves California Health Care Facility after seeing it through construction and an activation process that began in 2013 and spawned reports of inadequate medical care and sanitation problems.
More recently, the Berkeley-based Prison Law Office has questioned three inmate deaths that appear to have been preventable.
There certainly have been challenges in establishing operations at the facility, Rackley said, but his transfer is based on his own desire to work closer to home.
Rackley, an Elk Grove resident, said he’s been interested in Folsom for years, and when the opportunity presented itself a few weeks ago he accepted.
Rackley had been named acting warden of the health care facility after spending more than 25 years at Deuel Vocational Institution, where he had moved up through the ranks to become warden of the Tracy prison.
The Stockton assignment, Rackley said, was not intended as a long-term job.
The $839 million facility had been open for about six months when a court-appointed receiver, charged with taking over responsibility for state prison health care, halted medical and mental health admissions to the facility in January.

Stockton warden reassigned to Folsom Prison - News - recordnet.com - Stockton, CA

State audits find prison, hospital payroll abuses - LA Times

Audits of a state prison and psychiatric hospital detail hundreds of thousands of dollars in improper payments and financial problems, including outright payroll fraud, and medical staff and guards receiving questionable bonuses and holiday pay, according to reports released Wednesday.

The financial reviews at California's Sacramento prison near Folsom and the Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino are among 14 state agency audits required this year in the wake of payroll abuses uncovered two years ago at California's parks department.

The reviews, conducted by the state Controller, found rates of unauthorized or improper pay in as many as 88% of the relatively small number of files examined, amounting to excess payments to state workers of nearly $230,000.

Auditors have called on the state agencies to conduct full internal reviews of their payroll systems for the last three years.

There was no immediate response from the Department of State Hospitals, but a spokesman said the corrections department is conducting such a review and has issued new requirements to document who signs off on payroll decisions.

State audits find prison, hospital payroll abuses - LA Times

Indio council approves response to grand jury AB 109 report

The Indio City Council on Wednesday reviewed the city's response to a Riverside County grand jury report detailing the regional effects of AB 109, 2011 legislation that realigned the state's correctional system to ease overcrowding in state prisons.

The 12-page letter, approved with a 5-0 vote and with no discussion, provides the city's required response to the June 17 grand jury report.

Mayor Michael Wilson attended the meeting via teleconference from Maui, Hawaii.

The civil grand jury cited good and bad results since implementation of the realignment program in October 2011.

The city's letter acknowledges that as with many law enforcement agencies, AB 109 strained resources within the Indio Police Department and throughout the county.

Indio council approves response to grand jury AB 109 report

California Prisons Begin ‘Use-of-Force’ Reforms for Mentally Ill Inmates | State of Health Blog from KQED News

The number of inmates with mild to severe mental illness has grown to 37,000 in California, about a quarter of the prison population.

A series of lawsuits brought by inmates against the state over the last two decades has exposed a correctional system poorly equipped to handle their extraordinary needs.

Now California is trying to comply with a federal court order to change when and how correctional officers use pepper spray to force uncooperative inmates to leave their cells or follow orders.

Pepper spray may have contributed to three inmate deaths and an unknown number of injuries — unknown because the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations doesn’t consider the effects of pepper spray an injury.

The issue was brought to light last year through graphic videos shown in court in a lawsuit that was begun in 1990, a lawsuit brought by inmates to improve psychiatric care.

Prisons record some use of force incidents, according to department policy.

California Prisons Begin ‘Use-of-Force’ Reforms for Mentally Ill Inmates | State of Health Blog from KQED News

Eight California Prisons Accredited with the American Correctional Association

The Commission on Accreditation for Corrections has accredited eight additional California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) prisons, bringing the total number of accredited California prisons to 16. The most recent round of accreditations was announced yesterday during the American Correctional Association’s (ACA) 144th Congress of Correction in Salt Lake City, Utah.

California Institution for Women, Centinela State Prison, Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, Folsom State Prison, Ironwood State Prison, Kern Valley State Prison, Sierra Conservation Center and Wasco State Prison and Reception Center achieved near-perfect scores in the ACA evaluation.
“ACA accreditation is an important and highly respected indicator which demonstrates that our state prisons are being operated safely, professionally, humanely and in compliance with the U.S. Constitution,” said CDCR Secretary Jeff Beard. “I commend all CDCR employees for their ongoing commitment to ensuring our facilities meet and exceed such strict standards.”
For more than 143 years, the ACA has been the recognized worldwide authority in corrections and its Commission on Accreditation for Corrections certifies correctional facilities. The ACA is responsible for conducting the audits; the Commission, comprised of corrections professionals from across the country, is responsible for granting or denying the accreditation.
ACA standards are the national benchmark for the effective operation of correctional facilities. The ACA’s Standards Committee continually revises standards based on changing practices, current case law, agency experiences and the expert opinions of corrections professionals, doctors, legal experts and architects. Adult and juvenile facilities, community-based programs, and parole and probation agencies all use ACA standards. Lawyers, judges, county administrators, academia and advocacy groups also use ACA standards as a tool to ensure the constitutional rights of offenders and to protect staff and the public.

Eight California Prisons Accredited with the American Correctional Association

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

UC Davis ‘whistleblower’ wins $730,000 verdict - Sacramento City News - The Sacramento Bee

A Sacramento Superior Court jury has awarded a $730,000 verdict to a former UC Davis administrative nurse who claimed in a lawsuit that her career was ruined when she blew the whistle on an unethical pain management research project on prison inmates.

The jury’s decision came down late Monday in favor of Janet Keyzer, who had worked as an administrative nurse researcher for the UC Davis Center for Healthcare Policy and Research for more than nine years at the time of her termination in November 2007.

Keyzer, 59, is a 30-year nurse with a Ph.D. in human and community development, according to her lawsuit. She said she was subject to a series of retaliatory actions after she began work on the university’s Community Oriented Pain-Management Exchange Program in December 2006 and raised questions about whether a research project on physically and mentally disabled inmates at San Quentin Prison had obtained the consent from its “human subjects.”

According to Keyzer’s lawsuit, the project gathered medical data from the patient/inmates’ medical records without their permission and without the approval of the university’s Institutional Review Board that is supposed to review all requests for research on people.

When she expressed her concerns to her supervisor, “Ms. Keyzer was ostracized by COPE management and others at the Center,” her lawsuit said. She said her project manager became “hostile, abusive and rude” toward her.

In June 2007, the plaintiff’s husband, Ken Keyzer, a part-time technical staffer on the COPE project, was fired, the suit said. After the termination, Janet Keyzer directly contacted the Institutional Review Board, and it “confirmed the improprieties Ms. Keyzer identified,” her suit said.

UC Davis ‘whistleblower’ wins $730,000 verdict - Sacramento City News - The Sacramento Bee

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Delivery drone carrying marijuana, cellphones and tobacco crashed outside a S.C. prison - The Washington Post

Police are seeking one man and have arrested another who they believe tried to smuggle contraband into a South Carolina prison by way of drone.

On the morning of April 21, officers discovered a small drone that had crashed in the bushes outside the Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, S.C., according to the Associated Press. The drone never made it over the 12-foot fence, though the AP noted that “officials aren’t sure exactly where the drone would have gone if it made it over the wall.”

The drone was carrying marijuana, cellphones and tobacco, according to Stephanie Givens, a spokeswoman for the S.C. Department of Corrections.

One person, 28-year-old Brenton Lee Doyle, has been arrested in connection with the incident and appeared in court Wednesday. He has been charged with attempting to smuggle contraband into a prison and possession of the drug flunitrazepam, also known as “roofies,” according to Reuters.

Police have issued a plea for information about a second suspect who may be connected to the incident. They released a series of surveillance photos of the man taken in a convenience store near the prison.

Delivery drone carrying marijuana, cellphones and tobacco crashed outside a S.C. prison - The Washington Post

Convicted murderer escapes during prison transport in Merced County | abc30.com

Merced County California- Law Enforcement personnel has launched an active investigation an237086_630x354d manhunt in attempts to apprehend a wanted Escapee. Merced County Sheriff's Office received an emergency assistance request from officials from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation just shortly after 6:00p.m., this evening.

CDC officials reported while transporting Inmate Jeffery Scott Landers, from Wasco State Prison to Stockton California, he managed to escapee from Officers custody. Landers escaped from Officers, possibly in the area of Sultana Drive and Liberty Avenue in the Livingston California area.

Landers is described as a 34 year old white male adult, 5-8, brown hair, hazel eyes, medium built, eagle tattoo on chest

Landers is a convicted murderer, who has been sentenced. Landers is considered highly dangerous. Law Enforcement Officials are asking anyone with information as to Landers whereabouts to dial 911. Do not try to contact or apprehend if located.

Convicted murderer escapes during prison transport in Merced County | abc30.com

California prisons alter ‘use of force’ policies for mentally ill inmates - Crime - Sacto 911 - The Sacramento Bee

State prison officials unveiled new policies Friday that they characterized as a “sweeping culture change” aimed at limiting the use of pepper spray and other force against mentally ill inmates.

The policy changes, filed in Sacramento federal court as part of a long-running legal battle, essentially require prison guards to stop and consider alternatives to force as they get mentally ill inmates who are acting out to comply with commands.

The 69-page court filing also outlines new procedures for addressing disputes between guards and mental health professionals over how to resolve problems with mentally ill inmates.

“This is a great first step,” said inmate attorney Jeffrey Bornstein, who won his battle last year to have videos played in court of inmates being pepper-sprayed by guards. “This seems to mandate more of a collaborative approach.”

The new policy states that if there is disagreement between custody staff and mental health staffers over whether to use force, the issue must be elevated to higher-level officials on duty at a prison.

That change follows a Sacramento Bee report on the 2013 death of inmate Joseph Duran at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione after he was pepper-sprayed by guards.

Duran, who was mentally ill and breathed through a tube in his throat, was found dead Sept. 6 inside his cell seven hours after being pepper-sprayed.

The inmate had refused to let go of a food port in his cell door and was pepper-sprayed and left in his cell despite demands by medical staff that he be removed and decontaminated. Custody staff refused those demands, saying it was too dangerous to remove him, according to documents obtained by The Bee……………

California prisons alter ‘use of force’ policies for mentally ill inmates - Crime - Sacto 911 - The Sacramento Bee