Frequently Asked Questions – December 2022

CDCR is charged with providing a safe and secure environment for everyone who lives, works, and visits its institutions. Furthermore, the rehabilitation of individuals entrusted to the department’s care is also a top priority. CDCR offers a behavior-based housing model that focuses on providing the most programming opportunities for incarcerated people in the least restrictive setting, while still maintaining safety and security of our institutions and communities.

In November 2022, CDCR codified into regulations Sensitive Needs Yard (SNY) and Non-Designated Programming Facilities (NDPF) programs. SNY is a designation for incarcerated people who have safety concerns regarding living on a General Population (GP) yard, while NDPFs house people together regardless of their GP or SNY status to afford incarcerated people greater access to rehabilitative programs. Assignment to these facilities is made only after careful review of each individual’s case factors, potential safety concerns, and housing/rehabilitation needs to ensure people can safely program together. While these programs have been in place for some time, the department has now placed them into regulations to provide consistent requirements for both programs.

CDCR believes individuals are responsible for their own conduct and that all should meet behavior expectations in prison, just like they will in communities once released. It is the expectation that all will program together and comply with housing expectations.

CDCR’s previous SNY designation policy was directed through a policy memorandum. It did not require custody staff to evaluate and verify if an incarcerated person requesting SNY designation had safety concerns. This prior direction led to a gradual increase in the SNY population and a. rise in violent incidents within this population, including the inception of SNY Security Threat Groups (STG) and illicit activity.

The codification of SNY regulations provides CDCR with uniform criteria to verify systemic safety concerns prior to an individual being granted SNY designation. The SNY regulations benefit the SNY-designated population by providing uniform criteria to deny or remove SNY designation from those individuals who genuinely do not have systemic safety concerns.

In order to be designated as SNY in accordance with the California Code of Regulations (CCR), an incarcerated person must meet the following criteria:

  • The individual expresses safety concerns and requests SNY designation
  • The individual has specific, documented, and verified systemic safety concerns, as defined in section 3000.
  • The individual does not pose a threat to the safety or security of the SNY population
  • If the individual is documented as a validated Security Threat Group I (STG-1) member, as defined in section 3000, the person fulfilled the debriefing process according to section 3378.5.

Section 3000 defines “systemic safety concerns” as concerns not restricted to a specific or limited departmental facility or institution, meaning they impact housing statewide. Localized safety concerns are defined in section 3000 as concerns restricted to a specific or limited departmental facility or institution, thereby allowing for alternate housing placement.

No. With the adoption of SNY regulations, custody staff are not required to re-evaluate all incarcerated people with SNY designations. However, an individual may request to have their SNY designation removed to an Institution Classification Committee (ICC), or an ICC may choose to remove the individual’s SNY designation. In any case, a thorough evaluation shall be completed and documented in a Confidential Inmate Safety Closure Report (CISCR) prior to an ICC making a recommendation to remove the SNY designation.

Pursuant to section 3000, a CISCR is a documented, confidential, and thorough evaluation done by correctional staff to gather facts and evidence to assess an incarcerated person’s safety concerns before a committee action. The purpose of the CISCR is to examine the credibility and nature (local or systemic) of the individual’s safety concerns prior to a committee action. The CISCR provides an ICC with important information for the committee to make an informed decision regarding the individual’s safety and referral for appropriate housing placement.

No. Pursuant to section 3269.3(b)(E), an individual returning to the custody of CDCR with a prior SNY designation shall be re-evaluated to determine if the individual meets SNY designation criteria as described in subsections 3269.2(b)-(c).

CDCR recognizes that safety concerns are fluid and may evolve or resolve. Therefore, upon an individual returning to custody, correctional staff shall assess the totality of the individual’s safety concerns to determine if the individual meets SNY designation criteria as described in subsections 3269.2(b)-(c).

Yes. The individual has the right to appeal pursuant to section 3084.1.

CDCR is committed to helping people return to society successfully. To reach all incarcerated people, CDCR must house them in a focused environment with programs that help them want to be successful and grow as people, and steer them away from destructive cycles of violence, gangs and drug abuse. NDPF is an important part of CDCRs mission. The codification of NDPF regulations provides CDCR with the authority to exclude or remove individuals engaging in violent and or serious STG-related illicit behavior.

Yes. SNY designation is based on a set of facts and evidence that show systemic safety concerns are present with a portion of the general population. An individual with an SNY designation shall not be housed in a general population facility.

NDPF is an integrated housing model for individuals demonstrating a willingness to participate in rehabilitative programs and conform to departmental policies. Individuals housed on an NDPF are expected to program with all individuals regardless of case factors. To clarify, NDPF is not considered general population housing, as NDPF houses both programming general and SNY incarcerated populations.

Currently, more than 30,000 incarcerated individuals are positively programming on an NDPF, many of whom are SNY-designated.

Yes. However, CDCR houses incarcerated individuals in the least restrictive housing commensurate with their placement score and other case factors such as in-prison behavior, mental health needs, and medical concerns. Therefore, before NDPF placement, correctional staff shall explain to the individual the NDPF expectations and ask whether the individual agrees or disagrees. The individual’s preference and any additional statements made by the individual will then be documented on a CDCR Informational Chrono 128-B, Classification Chrono, Institutional Staff Recommendation Summary (ISRS) or Reception Center Readmission Summary.

Yes. The individual has the right to appeal pursuant to section 3084.1.

The safety and security of the people in our custody is our first priority, and our employees are well trained to ensure that continues to be the priority. Furthermore, anybody who engages in violent or threatening behavior toward others shall be subject to disciplinary sanctions. Potential transfer of people due to enemy concerns, or transfer to a higher security level based on classification committee review, will continue per current policy.