The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: Its Recent Steps Meant to Improve the Handling of Incarcerated Persons’ Allegations of Staff Misconduct Failed to Achieve Two Fundamental Objectives: Independence and Fairness; Despite Revising Its Regulatory Framework and Being Awarded Approximately $10 Million of Annual Funding, Its Process Remains Broken. In this report, we examine the department’s recently revised statewide process for examining incarcerated persons’ allegations of staff misconduct and the new unit the department created to perform investigations into these allegations – the Allegation Inquiry Management Section (AIMS). The report, which examines this process over a five month period between April 2020 and August 2020, found that wardens largely avoided referring staff misconduct grievances to AIMS, which opened only 86 inquiries per month, despite being funded to perform more than five times that amount. Our examination of the process identified flaws in its design that prevent wardens from referring allegations to AIMS for handling and preclude AIMS from handling various types of allegations. We conclude that the department has not increased the independence or fairness of this process, as wardens are exonerating staff in 98% of the allegations and the department’s limited information system prevents it from effectively assessing its own process.
California Correctional Health Care Services and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Caused a Public Health Disaster at San Quentin State Prison When They Transferred Medically Vulnerable Incarcerated Persons From the California Institution for Men Without Taking Proper Safeguards. Our review of the transfer of 189 incarcerated persons from CIM to San Quentin and CSP-Corcoran determined the efforts by CCHCS and CDCR to prepare for and execute the transfers were deeply flawed and risked the health and lives of thousands of incarcerated persons and staff members. Executives from each agency ignored concerns health care staff raised that the persons had not recently been tested for COVID-19 before the transfer. Prison staff further increased the risk of transmission by performing temperature and symptom screening of 55 incarcerated persons at least more than 6 hours before they boarded the buses. San Quentin staff then housed almost all of the incoming incarcerated persons in cells without solid doors, which allowed the virus to flow in and out of the cells freely. Although Corcoran staff housed the incarcerated persons in cells with solid doors, both prisons failed to properly conduct contact tracing investigations, increasing the risk that the virus would spread to other incarcerated persons and staff.
This report contains our assessment of the medical care provided to incarcerated persons at the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco between July 2019 and February 2020. We rated the overall quality of health care provided at CRC during this time period as Adequate.
This report addresses the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s internal investigations and employee discipline cases that we monitored and closed between January 1, 2020, and June 30, 2020. We concluded that the department’s overall performance in conducting internal investigations and handling employee discipline cases was poor. Of the 153 cases we monitored and closed throughout California during this time, we rated 105 cases satisfactory and 48 poor. While we recognize the department faced unprecedented challenges due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (known as COVID-19) during this reporting period, the decline in the department’s overall performance since the last reporting period from satisfactory to poor is concerning. We also determined that the department’s delays in processing employee disciplinary cases resulted in approximately $312,584 of unnecessary costs to the State and taxpayers during this time period.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Mishandled Allegations That a High-Ranking Official Engaged in Misconduct. This public version of a confidential report we provided to the Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (department) discusses the department’s response to a complaint it received in October 2018, which alleged one of its high-ranking officials engaged in misconduct and made decisions that resulted in a waste of State resources. We found that the lack of a policy setting forth a formal procedure by which the department reviews complaints against officials in this position left departmental officials without clear direction as to how to handle the complaint. When forced to create a special process to review a serious complaint against one of its highest-ranking officials, the department failed to ensure the complaint received the fair and thorough assessment departmental policy requires of complaints concerning all other departmental staff.