Quarterly Minutes

SIFC Quarterly Meeting Minutes – July 2021

SIFC members attending

Beth Hall, Chair; Allison Walters, Secretary; Carol Hinds; Beneé Vejar; Berindina Hogue; Joanne Scheer; and Clara Garcia

CDCR attending

Kimberly Seibel, Deputy Director; Marion Spearman, Associate Director; Daniel Ross, Correctional Administrator; Bryan Donahoo Correctional Administrator; Gordon Wong, Correctional Captain; Michael Magee; Peggy Andre; Sylvia Dumalig (EIS); Stephanie Jones (EIS); Elizabeth Gransee; Hillary Iserman, Brantley Choate (DRP); Kristina Khokhobashvili; and Shannon Swain Office of Education.

General Meeting Information

The meeting was brought to order by Daniel Ross, who introduced the CDCR Deputy Director, Kimberly Seibel.

Seibel shared that there are increasing cases of COVID-19 cases both in the community and in the facilities. There is an aggressive testing program in place which includes masking requirements and additional cleaning.

There are new mandates from the Governor’s office regarding COVID-19 with which CDCR is complying. Vaccinations continue to be offered to the staff and population which are available on request.

Third day visiting is moving forward and is starting in two weeks.

VISITING – General Issues

VSA system Issues

The EIS (IT) department addressed scheduling Visiting Scheduling Application (VSA) appointments.  They have been working with GTL to alleviate the issues based on data collected from the system. The login times were changed to 6a.m. to facilitate families being able to make appointments before work and school. When everyone is trying to sign in there are about 12,000 hits per minute. Fifty percent of the available slots are being booked within the first five minutes. Within fifteen minutes, 80% are booked.

There are approximately 2,100 video slots on Saturday and 2,500 in-person slots for a total of 4.600 available slots. On Sunday there about 2,600 video slots and 2,000 in-person slots. They are working with the vendor to figure out a way to possibly stagger the login times. More in -person visits will be available with Fridays opening soon. The limited availability impacts the system because of more competition.

The way the system is configured it is not as easy as just flipping a switch to make a change in the way appointments are processed.

They had removed the thirty-day exclusion period (one visit every thirty days) to make sure that all the slots were filled. CDCR is meeting with GTL next week to go over the proposed options to see which will work and the timeline for implementing them. After the meeting CDCR will provide an update so SIFC and other stakeholders can pass on the potential solutions.

The consensus is that staggered login times would solve many of the problems of an overloaded system.

Another concern is how to accommodate visitors who do not have computer access or are not fluent in English. Those people rely on other family members to make their appointments.  Additional options for a backup plan to include those families will be explored. The Center for Restorative Justice Works has been doing some one-on-one assistance for families in those situations. Families can be directed to contact them.

Minor Visitation

Minors under the age of two are still not allowed except at Family Visits. Especially with the increase of Delta variant cases recently there is still concern. CDCR is working with the Public Health physicians to set guidelines.

If a minor has been has not been added to the visitor’s profile it is suggested that the parent bring in the documentation (without the minor) to the Visitor Processing to be added to the SOMS system. When added to SOMS the approval is loaded into VSA and the visitor will then be able to select approved minors when making an appointment.

Friends Outside

An email was circulated saying that Friends Outside contract was being discontinued effective June 30th. This does not affect the Family Visitor Center contract where clothes and other amenities are provided for visitors.

It only pertains to the Family Liaison contract which provides services to those inside.

The Family Visitor Center contract will be expanded to accommodate the third day of visiting. They should be running normally on Saturdays and Sundays.

Visitor Status Page

The page is updated by each facility generally by the Administrative Assistant PIO. Updating depends on the days off but should be current.

It was requested that the facility contact info be placed with the facility entry so that families do not have to negotiate from page to page to find contact info. HQ will ask that a link to the contact list be placed at the top of the Facility Status page so visitors do not have to backtrack.

There has been difficulty reaching staff by phone on visiting days. The phones are supposed to be answered but it is difficult when they are trying to process visitors in a short period of time. It is best to try to call between processing times and on Monday, Thursday and Friday.

Staff Training

Statewide staff training for Visiting Lieutenants and Sergeants has taken place. It is their responsibility to train their staff on August 6. There will not be a closure of visiting for the training.

The topics covered included allowed clothing, which has continued to be a problem. The allowed clothing needs to be consistent, and the rules need to be clearly posted for visitors and staff. The old posters that were in visiting processing areas were outdated.

Family Visiting

Video and in-person visits that are confirmed are being canceled if there is a Family Visit in the same week even if the participants are not the same. This is because it shows a housing move. They are aware of this issue and working on a way to manually override.

Families that had made a deposit to accounts for Family Visiting can get a refund. It can be initiated by the inmate. Additional clarification will be made to cover circumstances where the funds should go back to the party making the deposit.

3rd Day Visiting

The third day of visiting begins Friday, August 13. There will be small time variances in facilities due to individual count times but will be between 12:00 (noon) and 7:00 p.m. The appointments will temporarily be made by email until the schedules are loaded into VSA. The appointment requests will be made Saturday 8:00 a.m. through Monday 8:00 a.m. All Friday visits will be in-person visits. A memo will be sent out later today with the details.

Fire camps still are not able to have in-person visits.


Contact Tracing

It was asked when an individual tests positive how is contact traced to find the source? Contact tracing is used to stop the transmission within the population but not to find how it was introduced. Quarantine and isolation is used to prevent the spread and testing is required of staff, programming people and the infected population until there are negative tests.

Staff Testing

There has been weekly testing for all unvaccinated staff prior to the order recently issued by the Governor’s office. Public Health makes recommendations when there is an outbreak which can include increasing testing to twice a week.

Staff self-screening is taking place as staff enter the facility. Any staff identified as a contact or as symptomatic is screened and sent home. There is no onsite temperature station.

Visitors still must submit a negative test (within 72 hours) or proof of vaccination. Onsite testing for visitors has been discontinued.

Tablets, Roll-out Schedule

There have been some delays in fully installation of the internet infrastructure required. VSP should be up and running August 9. VSP should be tentatively followed by ISP at the beginning of November, MCSP the beginning of December, CCVSP mid-December and SOL at the end of December.

The remaining institutions will follow in 2022.

Classification and Inmate Programming

Changes to Credit Calculations

Some recalculations have changed dates; sometimes earlier and sometimes later. Good Conduct Credits have increased under an Emergency Regulation. At the time the credits were increased a new calculations software program was put in place. The calculation methodology in this program did not agree with the Prop 57 requirements. This has been fixed but, in the meantime, dates were incorrectly changed several times. The corrections to the calculations have required that they be done manually, and each individual will be notified of that re-calculation. Any credits earned for programming or lost for discipline are still added or subtracted as they always have been.

Those in Fire Camps have a different method of calculation. Those earning the 66% credit previously had those credits given based on the assumption that they would remain in Camp for the next thirty days. Now credits are calculated after they have completed that thirty-day period.

There is recognition being considered for the DP and LWOP population who do not receive credits.

This information is available at the FAQ page.

C-Status, Canteen

C-status population receives one quarter of the maximum draw but does not include and food items. They are allowed stationery, vitamins, medications and hygiene items only.


Transfers are available for essential movement, but not regular transfers at the same level between facilities. With prisons closing and fewer facilities available in northern California loved ones are being moved further away from their families. It has been reported that FSP is not taking any Northern Hispanics.

The makeup of the population of each institution is evaluated and currently FSP will not be open to those transfer requests. That is subject to change.

Inmate Marriages and Domestic Partnerships

Counties have not been permitting video marriages. Facilities are beginning to open for in-person weddings, but this varies from facility to facility.

Domestic partnerships are recognized with the necessary paperwork from the Secretary of State. Marriage by Proxy in not recognized.

Governor’s Budget

Prison Closures

DVI is effectively closed. The last incarcerated person left on July 28. Staff is transferring to other facilities as needed.  The Secure Level I units at both CCI and CTF are scheduled to close September 30.

CCC is schedule to be closed at the end of June 2022.

There are no other closures planned.

SB542 allotments for 2021‐2022

The current SB542 allotments have been issued for 2021 spending. It was asked if the local IFCs could also be notified when this is sent out to the institutions.

The Inmate Welfare Fund will be used to fund Victim Impact Program grants in several facilities.

Increase to monthly canteen spending removal

This was a budget item in May, but not seen in the signed budget. HQ will research this and pass on the information.

Healthy menu options removal

This was also a budget item in May, but not seen in the signed budget. HQ will research this and pass on the information.

Office of Correctional Education Presentation

The meeting was followed by a presentation on all the various aspects and programs provided by the Office of Correctional Education.

The meeting was adjourned about 3:00 p.m.
The next meeting tentatively scheduled for October 29, 2021