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Friday, December 6, 2013

A sign of the times: California prison guards’ union embraces former enemies

The TribuneMost beefs between law enforcement employers, unions and the rank-and-file fall into three areas: workplace safety, money and respect.

All three have coalesced in a brouhaha that recently erupted over an abbreviated correctional officer academy now running in eastern Kern County.

The story starts with a recent three-year, $28.5 million deal between Gov. Jerry Brown and Corrections Corporation of America to lease the private prison company’s California City facility near Edwards Air Force Base. The agreement will add space for nearly 2,400 convicts. Brown needs the space to comply with a federal court order to reduce prison overcrowding without releasing inmates.

A spinoff from that deal is allowing 80 former CCA guards to become full-fledged state correctional officers on Dec. 12 after six weeks of training, 10 weeks less than the state’s standard academy training in Galt.

Corrections spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman said the shorter training makes sense because the former CCA staff have custody experience.

“Upon completion of their training, they will have the same knowledge and skills as all newly hired CDCR correctional officers,” she said.

But for some current and retired officers, the special academy is an affront to their profession and gives preference to private guards who once took work away from state workers. continue reading...

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