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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

California sets inmate sex reassignment rules

APCalifornia prison officials are setting the first standards for which transgender inmates should receive state-funded sex-reassignment surgery after spending years in court fighting to block the operations.

In a policy that took effect Tuesday and was reviewed by The Associated Press, prison mental health professionals would refer the inmates for the surgery. To qualify for the surgery, inmates must be diagnosed with what is formally known as gender dysphoria; have expressed a desire for sex-reassignment surgery for at least two years; and have lived as a member of the preferred gender for at least 12 months.

The announcement comes after California became the first state to agree to pay for one inmate's surgery and refused to provide the surgery to a second inmate who has since been paroled.

The guidelines are believed to be the first in the nation by a prison system, said Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for the federal court-appointed official who controls California's prison medical care. They were developed in cooperation with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which oversees inmates' mental health care.

"We understood there needed to be some uniform protocols in place that focused on the need for surgery when it was medically necessary, when there weren't any alternatives that were feasible," she said. The standards are similar to those used by medical providers outside the prison system, she said. continue reading...

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Union: Guard taken hostage was left alone with Ohio inmates

Parkersburg NewsA female prison guard was taken hostage by a male inmate after she was left alone in the library of a central Ohio prison, according to the union representing state corrections officers.

The guard was by herself after a second officer was pulled off for duties at the Mansfield Correctional Institution chapel, said Doug Mosier, a Mansfield guard and president of the facility's Ohio Civil Service Employees Association chapter.

Once the second officer was pulled away, the library should have been closed and inmates returned to their cells, he said. The room was a legal library where inmates are allowed to do research on their cases.

"Obviously, the inmate saw an opportunity and took it," Mosier said Monday. The union didn't know how many total inmates were in the library.

It was unclear exactly how the guard was taken hostage. Most inmates were heading back to their cells for a daily headcount at the time, Mosier said.

The guard, an experienced officer, was released safely and is doing well, Mosier said. The situation started at 10:30 a.m. and ended about 9 p.m. Sunday, but the prison remained on lockdown Monday, said JoEllen Smith, spokeswoman for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

She wouldn't release the name of the guard or inmate citing the ongoing investigation.

The union previously filed a grievance over the practice of leaving areas understaffed when guards are pulled away for other duties. Current policies prevent non-guards such as social workers and teachers from being left alone with inmates. The union wants that expanded to include corrections officers. continue reading...


EIN NewsDouble digit increases in crime may be an early warning sign of what’s to come as a result of California’s sweeping justice realignment system and the passage of Proposition 47. Riverside County District Attorney Michael A. Hestrin discussed what’s behind the recent uptick in crime as part of the continuing Randall Lewis Seminar Series presented by the UC Riverside School of Public Policy’s Center for Sustainable Suburban Development.

Violent crime jumped more than 10-percent in Riverside County between January and June this year compared to 2014. The County’s top prosecutor suspects that double digit increase may be an early warning sign of what’s to come as a result of California’s sweeping justice realignment system and the passage of Proposition 47.

Riverside County District Attorney Michael A. Hestrin talked about he believes is behind the uptick in crime as part of the continuing Randall Lewis Seminar Series presented by the UC Riverside School of Public Policy’s Center for Sustainable Suburban Development.

Hestrin explained to Ron Loveridge, director of the CSSD and former Riverside Mayor, that Riverside County communities saw significant increases in almost every category of crime in the first half of this year.

Normally when crime goes up during times of recession or economic downturn, it’s focused in “hot spots.” “What you’re seeing here is different,” Hestrin said.

Riverside County’s 10.63 percent jump in violent crime, however, pales in comparison to the 26.92-percent increase in violent crime in Cathedral City. Robberies jumped 150-percent there as well. Even the city of Riverside, the most populous municipality in the Inland Empire, was stunned to see robberies climb almost 14.48-percent.

There’s more than a suspicion, Hestrin said, that the increases are due to the justice system realignment mandated by Assembly Bill 109 in 2011 and voter approve Prop 47 last year. continue reading...

Friday, August 28, 2015

Legionnaires' disease case at San Quentin prison prompts shutoff of water

LA TimesWater service at California's San Quentin State Prison has been shut off after one inmate was diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease and dozens of others showed symptoms of the severe form of pneumonia.

California corrections officials said the first case was identified Thursday by doctors at an outside hospital. The stricken inmate remains under treatment. His current condition was not known, said prisons spokeswoman Dana Simas.

"There are currently less than a couple dozen inmates exhibiting symptoms," Simas said Friday. Those prisoners are being tested at outside hospitals to confirm the cause of their illness, she said.

In the meantime, she said, the prison at San Quentin has shut off water within its housing units until the cause of the disease is found. Simas said water is being delivered to the prison by "secondary sources," such as water tanks and bottled water, and portable toilets are being delivered.

The prison was closed Friday to all visitors.

Simas described Legionnaires' disease as a severe form of pneumonia, caused by a bacteria found in water systems.

"Fortunately, Legionnaires is not an infectious disease — it cannot be transmitted person to person. It is transmitted through aerosolized water (such as steam), or inhaling contaminated soil," said Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for the medical receiver's office that runs prison healthcare in California. continue reading...

A decade ago, a new name affirmed mission of CDCR

Inside CDCROne solid decade ago, the state prison system was completely overhauled, creating today’s California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

While the department was massively overhauled 10 years ago, improvements continue to be made, with rehabilitation the focus.

“The addition of the word ‘rehabilitation’ to our department’s name was significant. It is not enough to incarcerate; one of our core public safety missions is to give inmates opportunities to live productive, law-abiding lives through programs that better prepare them for their return to our communities. CDCR’s heavy investments in rehabilitation are paying off,” said CDCR Secretary Jeff Beard. “We now have a network of reentry hubs, and we are rebuilding our training, education and substance abuse programs to make the ‘R’ in CDCR a reality.”

In 2005, under the Governor’s direction, the department was reorganized and the word “rehabilitation” was added to the name. Some of the main goals included streamlining and “flattening” the department and eliminating duplication and inefficiencies.

“This effort consolidated the operations of the various departments and boards within the former Youth and Adult Correctional Agency (YACA) into the new CDCR,” according to “Successes and Challenges: The CDCR Story,” a department report published in May 2007. continue reading...