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Thursday, April 17, 2014

New state prison dogs help detect drugs on visitors, contraband in cells

KERO 23State leaders have made it top priority to stop the flow of drugs and other contraband into state prisons.

Now they have a new weapon to help them achieve that goal.

For years California state prisons had aggressive alert dogs that could detect narcotics and other contraband.

They are adding passive alert dogs that only detect narcotics on civilians entering the prison facilities.

State prison officials say these dogs are better for checking cars and people coming from the outside into the prison who may have contraband.

Aggressive alert dogs bark scratch and tear at the source of the contraband.

Passive alert dogs simply sit down when they detect contraband and stare at the area that they are alerting on.

This allows prison officials to use the dogs to search the cars of visitors and other people coming to the prison who may be trying to sneak in contraband. continue reading...

Senate leader calls for GPS investigation after O.C. serial killings

LA TimesThe leader of the state Senate is seeking an investigation into how two sex offenders being monitored by parole agents and tracked by GPS devices were allegedly able to rape and murder four women without being detected.

The two sex offenders were wearing electronic monitoring devices and regularly reporting to police during a months-long string of slayings in Orange County. They were arrested soon after a woman’s naked body was found on a conveyor belt at a trash-sorting facility.

Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said through his spokesman that while there’s evidence the devices are effective in solving crimes, the question of whether they prevent crime is something “we need to revisit.”

Steinberg seeks “an honest discussion as to whether the investment in these expensive programs is achieving what we’re told they’ll do,” said his aide, Rhys Williams.

California monitors more than 6,000 high-risk sex offenders and gang members on state parole with GPS systems -- a $63-million-a-year effort that is the largest electronic monitoring program in the nation.

There is no indication of whether there will be a similar investigation of the federal GPS probation system, which was tracking one of the registered sex offenders during a period last year when police say two of the women were killed.

More than 1,400 offenders are tracked under the national system.

Franc Cano and Steven Dean Gordon, both registered sex offenders, were arrested Friday on suspicion of raping and killing four women who vanished in central Orange County. All had a history of prostitution. continue reading...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Former judge to ID prisoners eligible for early release

APFederal judges have selected a former state appellate judge to determine which state prison inmates will go free if the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown fails to meet mandated population deadlines.

The three-judge panel said Wednesday that Los Angeles attorney Elwood Lui will serve as the state's compliance officer. He was an appellate judge from 1981 to 1987.

Lui will serve without pay but be reimbursed for expenses.

Earlier this year, the federal judges gave California until February 2016 to reduce the prison population by about 4,500 inmates, to a total of 112,000. The state also must meet interim population goals in June and in February 2015.

If the state fails to meet the targets, Lui will release inmates based on their potential risk to public safety and other factors.

Judge finds treatment of California’s mentally ill inmates ‘horrific’

Modesto BeeFollowing weeks of graphic court testimony and chilling videos of inmates writhing in pain as they were blasted with pepper spray, a federal judge has found that the use of force against mentally ill inmates in California prisons is unconstitutionally harsh.

Citing the “horrific” videos he viewed during hearings last fall and a wealth of other evidence, U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton on Thursday ordered state officials to continue revising the use-of-force procedures deployed against the state’s 33,000 mentally ill prisoners and to limit the use of solitary confinement as a means of disciplining such inmates.

The 74-page order cites the “overall significant progress” that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has made in modifying its use-of-force policies, especially new limits on how and when pepper spray can be used against mentally ill inmates.

But, with such inmates constituting more than 28 percent of the roughly 120,000 prisoners in state facilities, Karlton said further improvement is needed. The judge said he found unacceptable the treatment reflected in six videos played in open court of inmates screaming in agony as guards pepper-sprayed them for infractions such as refusing to come out of their cells.

“Most of the videos were horrific,” wrote Karlton, who was visibly anguished as he watched them from the bench during court hearings last fall. continue reading...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wasco correctional officers rally to help a co-worker battling stage four cancer

KEROA group of correctional officers from Wasco State Prison have come together to help a former co-worker battling stage four pancreatic cancer.

"It's a big shock,” said Henoc Zamudio.

Doctors told Zamudio he had cancer almost two months ago.

“I mean I had no clue. Never in a million years I would have thought something like that would happen to me."

The cancer has spread to Zamudio’s liver and doctors also said Zamudio only had three to six months left to live without chemotherapy.

“It’s hard on the kids, but we’ll pull through,” said Zamudio.

Zamudio recently decided to leave his job at the prison to spend more time with his wife and two daughters.

"That was one of the hardest things to do was put in my resignation,” explained Zamudio.

It has also been hard on those who worked with the 38-year-old.

"It's devastating to hear news like that about someone you know somebody you work with and appreciate,” said Anthony Blanco, Correctional Sergeant at the Wasco State Prison. continue reading...

12 arrested in gang sweep

Stockton RecordA gangland sweep Wednesday rounded up leaders of what police are calling one of Stockton's most notorious gangs.

The months-long investigation ended in a series of raids spanning the streets of Stockton, a home in Los Angeles and a cell in San Quentin State Prison, according to the Stockton Police Department. By the end of the day, 12 people were arrested on suspicion of committing a host of crimes, from robbery to human trafficking to gang-related offenses.

Among them were leaders of the Sutter Street Crips, a gang operating in the neighborhoods around California and Park streets.

The gang has been a "menace" to the community, and Wednesday's action showed the Police Department's commitment to stopping violence, Police Chief Eric Jones said in a statement.

The enforcement was part of the city's Operation Ceasefire, a method of targeting violent crime by focusing on the city's most violent groups. It's a double-pronged approach to combating violence.

It starts with "call-ins," when gang members are brought together to meet with police and community leaders. They are offered help to find other options to committing crimes, but they are also told they could expect a concerted response from law enforcement if they don't change their ways. continue reading...

Smelling out trouble – top CDCR K-9 teams put bite on contraband

Inside CDCRTo highlight CDCR’s dedication to keeping prisons safe, Inside CDCR is starting a series of articles called K-9 of the Month.

The articles will feature the top three CDCR service dogs statewide for the previous month. Each region will have a top dog based on amount of contraband/narcotics found, dedication to service, or wins in law enforcement K-9 competitions.

Here are the top three K-9s for the month of March:

Northern Region

Sgt. Jeremy Packard and “Scout”
Folsom State Prison
Active since July 2010

During the month of February, Scout alerted high during a search operation resulting in the discovery of a large stash of contraband and narcotics concealed in a ceiling. This one search resulted in the discovery of 83 grams of marijuana, 24 grams of Hasish, 7 pounds of tobacco, 3 cans of tobacco chew, 12 cell phones, 16 chargers, 1 Bluetooth device, 1 SD card and 1 AT&T go phone SIM card. continue reading...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

One in four inmates using drugs

AP Nearly a quarter of inmates tested in a screening last year in California had used one or more illegal substances, leading state prison officials to propose increasing penalties for drug and alcohol use.

Under the recommendation, a first positive test for drug use would cost inmates 90 days’ pay from work assignments, and repeat offenses could mean up to a year of lost wages.

However, inmates are paid only pennies an hour, prompting an official with the guards’ union to question the proposed regulations on Monday.

The department also plans to standardize mandatory drug testing across prisons.

While making its proposal, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said there were more than 4,000 drug-related prison incidents last year. More stringent penalties for drug use would increase prison safety and help inmates complete substance abuse treatment programs, the agency said.

“We recognize a problem with the use of drugs in our population, and the culture that it creates, and we must act to prevent the introduction of narcotics while providing treatment to those who are addicted,” department spokeswoman Kristina Khokhobashvili said in an email.

Nearly 23 percent of inmates tested positive for one or more illegal drugs during the screening in June of a quarter of the inmate population, the department said. The figure could be even higher since about 30 percent of the selected inmates refused to be tested, even though they were promised that no one would be punished for testing positive.

More than half the positive tests involved marijuana, 20 percent indicated morphine use; 14 percent methamphetamines; 11 percent amphetamines; and 2 percent cocaine.

Separate statistics show 320 prison visitors and 10 employees were arrested last year while trying to smuggle in drugs. Another 52 people were arrested for trying to bring drugs on to prison grounds when they had no reason to be there. continue reading...

Road work will complicate getting to Training Center in Galt

Inside CDCRThe Twin Cities Road off-ramps along Highway 99 will be closed April 14 through May 31, and there will be no access across Highway 99 on Twin Cities Road.

Twin Cities Road will be closed between Christensen Road, west of Highway 99, and Fermoy Way, east of the Highway, but local access will be permitted.

All of this will make getting to the Richard A. McGee Correctional Training Center less direct, but not impossible.

Anyone traveling from the north will find it easier to take Interstate 5 south to the Twin Cities Road exit and proceed east to the Training Center. Those traveling from the south can take Interstate 5 north and do the same.

Access to the Training Center can be gained from Highway 99 by taking Exit 275A – Elm Avenue from the north or Simmerhorn Road from the south – and proceeding west to North Lincoln Way. Go north on North Lincoln Way – which turns into Stockton Boulevard – until Spring Street. Turn west on Spring Street, north on Christensen Road and back east on Twin Cities Road to the Training Center.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Law enforcement supports change to Realignment Act

KESQA move from the State to ease prison overcrowding is forcing local law enforcement to chase after the same criminals over and over again. Friday Coachella Valley Police Chiefs along with the Riverside County Sheriff voiced their support for changes to the state law known as AB 109.

"Folks know that they can commit a crime, they can violate and they can get a way with it," said Assemblyman Manuel Perez.

Lawmakers passed AB 109 in 2011 to help save the state money and ease crowding in prisons by letting lower-level offenders serve their sentences in county jails.

"In essence the state passed the buck onto local law enforcement and local county jail systems,"said Riverside County Sheriff Stanley Sniff.

However, many jails were already full. A federal court ordered more than half of the state's county jails, including Riverside, to reduce overcrowding.

"It's like the second floor collapsing on the first floor, it's damaged a lot of the county operations," said Sheriff Sniff.

That left the county no choice but to release some criminals early.

"We quite literally end up keeping the worst of the worst behind bars and we release the best of the worst and that is unfortunate right now that we've turned into a complete lack of a deterrent on low level offenses," said Sheriff Sniff.

"They commit a crime, we arrest them, take them to jail and then they are back out," said Palm Springs Police Chief Alberto Franz. continue reading...

California Correctional Officer set for multi-marathon benefit

Mac Chambers is a natural for an eight-day, 205-mile run through the desert.
The 39-year-old California Department of Corrections officer and committed distance runner not only enjoys the sport and the challenge, he is motivated by an opportunity to run for a good cause.

Chambers is part of a team that will participate in the 3,000-mile MS Run the US, a benefit to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He takes on the second leg of a 16-segment cross-country relay, which will take him through the Mojave Desert on the way from Barstow to Las Vegas from April 18 to 25.

In all, the MS Run the US event will take four months, starting April 13 in Los Angeles and ending Aug. 17 in New York.

Athleticism has always been part of Chambers’ lifestyle, ever since he became a wrestler in the fifth grade. He went on to wrestle at Tracy High. In between his freshman and sophomore years, he attended a wrestling camp in San Diego where endurance runs were part of the conditioning routine.

“When I came back for my sophomore year at Tracy High, I joined the cross-country team,” he said. Like wrestling, it’s a sport that allows him to decide how hard he is going to work out.

After high school, Chambers continued to run three or four times a week just to stay in shape. Then, about three years ago, he took a look back at the goals he set for himself in high school.

“During one of those wrestling camps, I made a list of goals I wanted to accomplish, and one of those was to run a marathon, so I did that back in 2011,” he said.

He got right into it — no 5K or 10K warm-up races — and started his competitive running career with the San Francisco Marathon.

California adds another private prison

LA TimesCalifornia corrections officials have agreed to lease another private prison within the state, telling the GEO Group it will get $9 million a year to house some 260 female inmates at a facility north of Bakersfield.

The four-year contract for the McFarland Community Reentry Facility will house women serving the final portion of their prison terms. The Florida-based prison operator said in a statement to investors Tuesday that it expects to begin accepting inmates by this fall, and that the contract allows occupancy to be doubled within the year. GEO already has contracts to house 2,000 male prisoners in McFarland and Adelanto.

One out of 10 California inmates is serving time in a leased or private prison as the state grapples with federal court orders to reduce crowding in its own institutions. Women's prisons are the most cramped: The Central California Women's Facility at Chowchilla is listed at 182% capacity in last week's state prison census report, with 1,600 prisoners more than it was intended to hold.

In a report to the Legislature on Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown's administration said it was 500 inmates over judges' interim goal of reducing crowding statewide by June to 143%. The administration has yet to roll out elderly and expanded medical parole programs the judges had also ordered to ease crowding. continue reading...