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Ten Months Later: 66 Maximum Security Prisoners Still Improperly Housed In CDCR Reception Centers

Following up on the August 2005 statewide directive to tighten up on procedures for properly segregating known dangerous new commitments at the reception center prisons, the California Inspector General (IG) conducted an audit on October 14, 2005 of CDCR's Distributed Data Processing System to determine housing and custody status of all prisoners at the six reception centers: San Quentin State Prison, Deuel Vocational Institution, Wasco State Prison, North Kern State Prison, California Correctional Institution and R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility. The report was released in march, 2006.

The IG found that 66 maximum custody prisoners were improperly placed in the general population at five of the centers, i.e., the very type of administrative lapse that caused the death of prison gaurd Gonzalez only ten months earlier. The misplacements were not merely procedural in nature. Four such prisoners had already been involved in violent attacks since entering reception; two had attacked guards and one had attempted to murder another prisoner with a shank.

The IG noted that in 2004, CDCR had processed 125,422 male prisoners in the six reception centers. While 66 errors in one snapshot might not seem like much, it takes just one to permit a preventable assaultive incident. The IG noted that at the one prison (R.J. Donovan) where no errors occurred, the prison had taken extra precautionary procedures over those recommended in the August 2005 CDCR directive. This inspired the IG to recommend added procedures to be implemented statewide to stem the problem.

Noting that previously segregated violent prisoners when returned to prison were not properly coded as to their prior status, the IG suggested that a code designation be added to every such prisoner upon his prior departure (similarly to that already done for those needing single cell status), so that the Distributed Data System would flag this immediately upon his subsequent re-arrival. This should be coupled with a lockout feature to prevent even inadvertent placement of such a prisoner in the general population until his file had been processed in committee. The IG further recommended incorporating these recommendations into CDCRs regulations, so that compliance would not vary between locales. This procedure would also prevent the opposite error -- improper housing of new arrivals in expensive administrative segregation cells ($1,000/mo. added cost) when their custody had in fact been downgraded before they paroled earlier.

Source: IG report, Special Review: Improper Housing of Maximum Custody Inmates at California State Prison Reception Centers, March 2006.

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