Letter to all incarcerated people

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation seal

Date: July 9, 2020

As we continue to fight the spread of COVID-19 in our prisons, I want to acknowledge the significant burden you and your families continue to bear as a result of the extraordinary changes we have made to our operations.

Since March, you have endured the suspension of visits, reduced phone call schedules due to physical distancing and cleaning requirements, schedule changes, housing changes, program suspensions and extremely limited movement. Some have been endorsed for other institutions or programs and have not been able to transfer. At institutions that experienced outbreaks, you’ve gone through even more. All this is coupled with the worry you have for your health and that of your peers and loved ones. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has lost 32 people to this disease – I extend my sincerest condolences to their family, friends, co-workers, and communities.

To continue to effectively fight this virus, we must create more space in our prisons, both to expand physical distancing to slow COVID-19’s spread and to ease some of the immense challenges staff face every day. To do this, CDCR is expediting some releases and exploring other options. As part of those efforts, and to recognize the impact on programs and credit earnings during the COVID-19 pandemic, I announced today the CDCR will implement Positive Programming Credits (PPC).

This credit will provide 12 weeks of credit to everyone in CDCR custody, except those found guilty of a serious rules violation between March 1, 2020, and July 5, 2020. PPC will be awarded under the existing “Extraordinary Conduct Credits” in Title 15, which authorizes the Director of the Division of Adult Institutions to award credit to an incarcerated person who has “provided exceptional assistance in maintaining the safety and security of a prison.” As this authorization exists in state law and therefore does not require a regulation change, we must follow the exclusions outlined in the law, which means those serving life without the possibility of parole and people who are condemned are not eligible for credit-earning.

These credits are expected to be applied by August 1, 2020. For those whose Earliest Possible Release Date will be reached once the credit is applied, we expect releases to begin in August following normal processes outlined in Title 15.

While this will in no way make up for the multitude of changes and impacts to your lives this pandemic has necessitated, I hope it will play a part in recognizing your sacrifice and the role you continue to play in keeping the institutions safe and peaceful, which enables staff to focus on providing care to those who are ill. We cannot get through this without your understanding, patience, and support. Your efforts are appreciated.

With gratitude,