SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has launched a special web page to provide the public with information about the Department’s new integrated housing program. Found atwww.cdcr.ca.gov/News/Integrated_Housing/index.html, the website contains fact sheets about the program, background about the case that resulted in new integrated housing procedures, brochures which have been given to offenders, a video shown to offenders about the program, and the regulations for integrated housing. Other content may be added as implementation proceeds.
“We expect to begin implementation of the next phase of the integrated housing program this month. This new web page is designed to help answer some of the questions that many people have about the program,” said Suzan Hubbard, CDCR Director of Adult Institutions. “Our goal through this program is to ensure that we are providing an environment where inmates are not pressured into dividing among racial or other groups out of fear of retribution or violence from gang or disruptive influences.”
Background on Court Case
In 1995, inmate Johnson filed a complaint in the United States District Court, Central District, alleging that CDCR’s reception center housing practice violated his right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment by assigning him cellmates on the basis of race. CDCR prevailed in the District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Inmate Johnson filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. After clarifying the constitutional standard that applies to racial classifications imposed by government, the Supreme Court remanded the case to the Ninth Circuit in 2005 for application of that standard. The parties agreed to participate in mediation, which resulted in a Settlement and Release Agreement and the development of new integrated housing program policies.
Overview of New Policy
The integrated housing program is not about desegregating prisons. Classrooms, programs, work assignments, yards, visiting, dining rooms, dorms, female offender housing, and conservation camps have long been integrated. The integrated housing program ensures that inmate housing assignments in cells and dorms are made using rational objective criteria. New procedures will utilize all available information and take into consideration inmates’ safety, security, treatment and rehabilitative needs in assigning inmates to cells and beds. It also ensures that race will not be the sole determining factor in housing inmates.
In developing new policies and regulations for implementing the integrated housing program CDCR carefully reviewed other states that have integrated inmates in cells and dorms, and received input from national experts. The review of policies and procedures will continue throughout implementation.
“We will be implementing the integrated housing program in a thoughtful and measured manner and will be monitoring results closely every step of the way. Protecting the safety and security of inmates and staff in our institutions is our top priority,” said Director Hubbard. “Based on research from national experts and the experience of other states we believe that this program will ultimately help to curb the influence of gangs and disruptive groups once fully implemented, and will help to better prepare inmates to reenter society upon release.”
For more information on the program, visit: www.cdcr.ca.gov/News/Integrated_Housing/index.html