Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Pay To Play: Guard Union Spreads the Wealth

From January 3, 2000 to February 9, 2004, 26 of the 40 California state Senators and 50 of the 80 Assembly Members received funds - ranging from $1,000 to $333,000 - from the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), the guards union, and/or Native Americans and Peace Officers Political Action Committee (NAPO). [NAPO acts as a shill to funnel CCPOA money to legislators, as do Senate and Assembly Leadership Funds.] Legislators responded in July, 2004, when, feigning to abate the state budget crisis, they inked a controversial renegotiated" guards' contract. But the deal that was cut has been harshly criticized by U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson as giving the guards power that frustrates the repair of prisoners' constitutional rights violations the court has been trying to make for fifteen years.

In exchange for a 5% pay raise delay for six months (worth $108 million, out of a total 37% pay raise), the CCPOA gained new controls over prison management. It also was guaranteed previews of confidential video tapes that are in evidence pending excess-use-of-force and other employee misconduct investigations. Senator Gloria Romero said this would have a chilling impact on prisoners and guards who seek to file complaints on rogue guards." [Curiously, while the CCPOA was arguing that release of such video-tapes will open the door to increased public and media scrutiny of how guards and prisoners conduct themselves," they simultaneously lobbied to successfully defeat legislation that would have permitted the media access to prisoners.]

Another contract feature was the guarantee of no guard layoffs unless the prison population dropped by 6%. This rings hollow since the number of parolees returned to prison on technical" parole violations is at the sole discretion of the union's parole agents. Thus, bed-vacancy-driven recidivism" ensures there will be no such layoffs. Indeed, as of December, 2004, CDC was projecting a $109 million budget overrun from guard overtime costs related to the increased population.

Six-figure Senate beneficiaries were President Pro-tem John Burton ($333,000), Tom Torlakson ($302,500); Bob Margett ($279,500); Jack Scott ($200,000), Minority Leader Jim Brulte ($180,000); Dede Alpert ($125,000) and Ed Vincent ($100,000). In the Assembly, Barbara Matthews received $157,000 and Rebecca Cohn received $101,000. Another six-figure recipient was Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

It should be noted that these amounts do not include money given directly to the political parties, political action committees (PAC), or sums spent to sway elections. For example, the CCPOA gave over $1 million in November, 2004 to defeat Proposition 66, the Three-Strikes Initiative Act that would have voided 4,5,00 non-violent third time offenders' life sentences - thereby threatening union jobs. In all, the San Jose Mercury News reported that between January, 2000 and February, 2004, the CCPOA doled out $12.6 million in political contributions: $4.6 million to candidates for public office, $1.5 million in stink" money to siphon off voters against candidates they disfavored, $1.9 million to PACs and $4.6 million in other expenditures.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login