SACRAMENTO.—Today, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is announcing changes aimed at improving both the credit-earning opportunities for the incarcerated population, as well as the investigative and disciplinary process on alleged staff misconduct.
The department filed a series of proposed regulations to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) outlining the changes, and setting the department on the path of meeting goals established by CDCR’s leadership to improve operations, service, and accountability.
“These changes are bold and necessary moves to ensure we have processes that work for our incarcerated population, staff, and the various stakeholders we work with and serve,” said Kathleen Allison, Secretary of CDCR.
Specifically, there were three sets of proposed regulations that were introduced to the OAL today. The first involves revised draft regulations to make needed improvements to the Good Conduct Credit (GCC) earning changes previously introduced in May 2021. The revised changes include discontinuing the Minimum Security Credit (30-day earned credit after every 30 days served) established in the previous regulations for eligible people housed in conservation (fire) camps or minimum custody facilities, and establish 66.6 percent for those serving time for nonviolent offenses at camps and Minimum Support Facilities (MSF). For those serving time for violent offenses, GCC earning will be 50 percent for violent offenses at fire camp and 33.3 percent at MSF.
“The previous proposed changes, while well intentioned, created a lot of unnecessary operational challenges, as well as confusion in both our population and their families, because they were getting release date calculations at the end of every month, instead of at the beginning of their sentence,” added Allison. “We listened to these concerns, and made the decision to revert the credit-earning calculation so that people can see their release dates up front.”
Additionally, the proposed revised regulations will return zero-credit earning status to people who are temporarily assigned to segregated housing for serious rules violations or such offenses as failing to participate in rehabilitative programs or work.
The streamlined two-tiered GCC-earning system established in the May 2021 regulations that permit incarcerated people serving time for violent offenses to earn 33.3%, or 50%, if they’re serving time for nonviolent offenses, will remain in effect. This is not an early release program, and these changes do not result in the automatic release of any incarcerated individual. Release date restrictions to ensure victim and local law enforcement notification are still in effect.
The other proposed regulations introduced are pursuant to changes in the investigatory and disciplinary processes involving allegations of staff misconduct toward an incarcerated person or parolee. The draft regulations establish a new centralized and transparent process, and represent a complete restructuring of the process to investigate misconduct allegations. Per the proposed regulations, all allegations of staff misconduct toward an incarcerated person or parolee will be sent to the Centralized Screening Team at CDCR’s headquarters to determine whether an allegation should be reviewed at the local level or if investigation by CDCR’s Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) is necessary.
“We are striving to create an environment where the people in our custody or under our supervision, as well as staff, have confidence in our system, and can raise concerns without fear of retaliation. My primary goal is to create a positive culture of mutual respect, accountability, and engagement, as well as a transparent process that is fair and balanced,” said Allison.
Previously, a grievance was reviewed at the institution, parole office, or other location where the complaint originated. If it was determined to involve a complaint against staff, it was it sent to the local Hiring Authority—generally the highest-ranking person within that staff member’s program or division. The new centralized process removes any actual or perceived local influence by eliminating the ability of institutional authorities to remove grievances from the review process.
Some of the additional proposed changes include significantly increasing the time individuals have to file any grievance or appeal, from 30 calendar days to 60 days; completely eliminating timeframes for allegations of staff misconduct; and adding to the department Employee Disciplinary Matrix misconduct categories for staff disabling body-worn-cameras (BWC), tampering with or destroying BWC or audio-visual surveillance systems (AVSS) recordings, off-duty firearm issues, stalking, and workplace violence.
These proposed changes were made in collaboration with many CDCR stakeholders, including the Office of the Inspector General and Office of the Ombudsman, which engages directly with the incarcerated population and their families.
CDCR will roll out the process in several phases, with full implementation expected to be completed by June 2023.
Frequently asked questions on the package of regulations can be found here:
Staff misconduct regulations: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/family-resources/frequently-asked-questions-on-allegations-of-staff-misconduct/
The emergency regulations process is part of the rulemaking process set forth by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). All state agencies must follow APA procedures when adopting regulations. Under the department’s emergency regulations process in Penal Code, OAL will have 20 calendar days to review and certify the emergency regulations, for temporary adoption. If approved by OAL, the emergency regulations will be in emergency effect for 160 days, during which time CDCR will promulgate permanent regulations, which will include a public comment period.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: CDCR Press Office
December 8, 2021 OPEC@CDCR.CA.GOV