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California Dials Wrong Number

by W. Wisely

In reaction to bad publicity, lawsuits, and legislative hearings following a record number of fatal shootings of unarmed male prisoners, staged fights, and the sexual abuse and medical neglect of women prisoners, California established the allegedly independent Office of Inspector General within the state's Youth and Adult Correctional Agency. Posters were ordered to be put up at all department and Youth Authority facilities asking prisoners to report staff misconduct by calling a tollfree number. Unfortunately, neither the Department nor the Youth Authority will allow prisoners to make tollfree calls.

"We informed the Office of Inspector General of that," a spokes- woman for the Department told the Sacramento Bee . "But, they went ahead with the posters anyway." Martin Hoshino of the Inspector General's Office admitted the problem, but said there was no choice. "We're required [by a new state law] to put the posters up, and that's what we did," Hoshino told the newspaper.

The Inspector General's Office is optimistic a solution will be worked out. But, since last October, the Department and Youth Authority have both refused to change their rules to allow prisoners to report staff misconduct by using an 800 number. The poster campaign cost taxpayers an estimated $150,000.

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