Statewide Inmate Family Council / CDCR Meeting Minutes October 29, 2021
SIFC members attending
Beth Hall, Chair; Allison Walters, Secretary; Annette Flores, Carol Hinds, and Clara Velasco. Member Joanne Scheer recently resigned.
General Meeting Information
The meeting was brought to order by Dan Ross at 2:00 p.m.
The VSA problems with the server and booking appointments is being worked on in conjunction with GTL. Staggered scheduling of booking times is being proposed.
The details are still being worked out with input being requested. The proposed solution is to divide the state’s facilities into three regions: Southern, Central and Northern. Because most appointments are filled within the first ten minutes the suggestion is to stagger the start times by thirty minutes beginning at 6:00 a.m. in the Northern block, 6:30 in the Central block and 7:00 in the Southern block. They expect to create the blocks according to the number of appointment slots so that the demand is equal within the blocks. The target for this to go online is early December. All the information such as which block the facility is in will be listed on the CDCR visiting site. An information email will also be sent out.
GTL has upgraded all of their servers and moved to a ‘server farm’ which only handles GTL traffic so there is not competition from other users.
Other concerns addressed were the “double-booking’ issue which has now been found and resolved. The problem of appointments being cancelled because of Family Visits is also now resolved. VSA appointments will no longer be cancelled because SOMS reports a housing move during those visits.
Processing delays with the first appointments was addressed. Visiting staff across the state will be reminded to begin on time with the goal of having visitors in the visiting room at the start of the visitation time so that the entire two hours of visiting is received.
No-shows for in person visits remain a problem. The issue is under discussion. Some facilities have up to 50% no-shows. This has a critical effect on families and appointment scheduling. In addition, the fewer number of visitors is impacting vendor decisions in stocking the vending machines because of left over product. This limits choice of food available to visitors as well as the amount.
Thanksgiving visits will be in person on Thursday. Appointments will be made through email rather than VSA. Christmas and New Year fall on Saturday this year which is a regular visiting day. There will be no additional day of visiting for those holidays and those appointments will be made on VSA. It is expected that the scheduling period for Thanksgiving will open on Saturday, November 13 so families may make travel plans. That date will be confirmed to the institutions and visitors within the week.
Some facilities keep additional video equipment available for connectivity failures. This can reduce the appointment slots and is not a feasible solution across the state. Local IT staff is not available on the weekend to address equipment failure.
There are still some problems with adding additional people to your visiting list because the entering of the visitor’s name is not consistent in the system. Most of the initial problems with claiming accounts have been resolved. Variations of the name and or ID used were mostly to blame for the issues.
Recent emphasis has been on compliance to Judge Tigar’s mandatory vaccination requirement for staff and for population in certain areas and for certain privileges such as in person visiting. Vaccination continues to be offered to the population and staff as well as the booster shot. The date for required population vaccinations is December 20, but requirements for staff are not set due to the legal activity in response to the implementation plan from the court. No appeal against the mandate has been filed on behalf of the population. All memos/orders are posted on the CDCR Covid Information page.
Additional increases in visiting and programming capacity are being worked out. HEPA filtration systems and fans are being added to all group use spaces. More than 4000 units will be installed. The noise of the systems is being tracked to make sure they do not interfere with the function of the spaces.
Because of the decrease in Covid cases other things under consideration are mask off photos in the visiting room, visiting with children under 2 years old, a reduction in space between visitors and brief kisses on arrival and exit at visits. These details have yet to be determined.
The Delta variant is very communicable with no obvious symptoms. This seems to be causing most of the current outbreaks. Approximately 30%-40% of the population testing positive have been vaccinated. Protection is not perfect, but of those vaccinated none have been hospitalized or died.
Booster shots are being given. Third doses for those who are immuno-compromised have been done and boosters are available on request. Originally the same brand/manufacturer of booster was given as the initial vaccine, but now the brands can be mixed. In some cases, this can increase the immunity.
Flu shots can be given at the same time the booster is received. It is recommended that they be given in different arms.
No resumption of onsite rapid testing for visitors is planned because of the draw on staff and the greater availability of testing to the public.
There have been delays in the rollout of the tablets. The project installation has been more difficult than expected. Three facilities are expected to go online before the end of the year. They are Solano, Ironwood and Chuckawalla. Mule Creek is expected to go online January 3. Full deployment is expected by the end of 2022, subject to change due to unforeseeable problems. (Attachment)
Two teams are working to expedite the installation. Deployment prioritization was given to facilities with the largest programming population. Geographic closeness was also considered.
The facility that is up and running, VSP, has only had minor problems with the system. There were slight delays with some programs but those have been resolved. There are many more services and programs available than was included in the original pilot at five institutions.
Any problems with the tablets are addressed with a step-by-step process depending on the problem. This is either on a troubleshooting site on the tablet itself or by creating a work ticket at the kiosk.
Questions had been received regarding counselors not scanning certificates for completed work done through self-help courses from outside sources such as GOGI, Prep LA and Crossroads Ministries. Documents received directly from the population are not appropriate for scanning into the file. There was a memo addressing this several years ago. This memo will be furnished. (Attachment)
An Olson Review may be requested annually to make sure all information is correct and up to date in a C-file and is always done before a Parole Board hearing. All outside course certificates should be maintained by the individual for presentation when additional documentation is requested prior to the hearing.
There is no standard for guest attendance at events such as graduation. It varies between facilities because social distancing requirements vary from county to county.
The goal is to make such events as available as possible to the families, if not in person, then by video or providing a recording of the ceremony. The more notice given of events the more time there is to make possible arrangements to include family and friends in person.
Pay rates for job assignments begin the at the time they are placed in the assignment and are based on a five-tiered skill level. Pay increases are not made automatically and are not based on time in the assignment. Increase or decrease of the pay rate are based on the recommendation of the supervisor, the performance rates and are subject to review by the Inmate Assignment Authority. They may receive an increase quarterly, but no more that the highest rate assigned to the job.
Halftime and parttime positions are paid an hourly rate. Full time positions are paid monthly rates. Level I is a lead person, Level II is special-skilled, Level III is a technician, Level IV is semi-skilled and Level V is a laborer. Each level has five tiers of pay which is consistent statewide. There is no cost-of-living or inflationary pay adjustment made.
There are some assignments that have no pay number. There are exceptions to the pay scale such as if a job is hard to fill or requires special skills. The third exception is if a wage is comparable to a PIA position such as special jobs falling under DRP (Offender Mentor Certification Program and the Peer Literacy Mentor Program). PIA positions are paid under an entirely different and higher pay scale making those jobs extremely desirable.
A major institutional maintenance program is continuing. There were additional funds allocated in the recent budget and a substantial increase in funding for roof replacement ($324 million) and repairs required above and beyond annual maintenance ($26 million annually plus an additional $200 million). Health Care Facility upgrades are being completed and there are several substantial special projects due for completion in 2022 and 2023. (Attachment)
There will not be an additional quarterly package allowed in 2022. (Edited Jan. 19, 2022, based on November 23, 2021 memo).
Provision of DOM Supplement sections for mail, visiting, and dress code exceptions at the request of the local IFC will be researched. Visitors must follow those regulations and should have access to the information.
Family Express has new funding to expand the bus service for visitors. It will be some time before the details will be worked out in the contract and for scheduling. Transportation is expected to be provided to all institutions.
The announcement was made that Lt. Matt Rustad is promoting and will be leaving the unit for a position at the Office of Internal Affairs. Congratulations on the new position. He will be missed.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:00 p.m.
The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for January 28, 2022
TABLET INSTITUTION DEPLOYMENT DATES
As of January 2022. Schedule subject to change
- Valley State Prison –August 2021
- Ironwood State Prison – December 2021
- Avenal State Prison (ASP)
- Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF)
- Centinela State Prison (CEN)
- California Institution for Women (CIW)
- Chuckawalla Valley State Prison (CVSP)
- High Desert State Prison (HDSP)
- Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP)
- California State Prison-Los Angeles County (LAC)
- Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP)
- Sierra Conservation Center (SCC)
- Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (SATF)
- California State Prison, Solano (SOL)
- California City Correctional Facility (CAC)
- Calipatria State Prison (CAL)
- California Correctional Institution (CCI)
- California Men’s Colony (CMC)
- California Medical Facility (CMF)
- California Rehabilitation Center (CRC)
- California Correctional Center (CCC)
- California Health Care Facility (CHCF)
- California Institution for Men (CIM)
- California State Prison-Corcoran (COR)
- Correctional Training Facility (CTF)
- Folsom State Prison (FSP)
- Folsom Women’s Facility (FWF)
- North Kern State Prison (NKSP)
- Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP)
- Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP)
- Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD)
- California State Prison-Sacramento (SAC)
- San Quentin State Prison (SQSP)
- Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP)
- Wasco State Prison (WSP)
FACILITY PLANNING, CONSTRUCTION AND MANAGEMENT
Statewide Inmate Family Council Quarterly Meeting (October 29, 2021)
Annual Maintenance Funding
- In 2018-2019, annual maintenance funding was approximately $37 million, shared by all prisons.
- In 2019-2020, this funding level was increased to nearly $56 million, and in 2021-22 was further increased to approximately $75 million.
- This funding increase allows prison maintenance staff to:
- Provide preventive maintenance necessary to keep buildings and the systems serving the buildings in operating condition.
- Provide minor repairs and equipment replacement as needed.
- This funding increase allows prison maintenance staff to:
CDCR receives $26 million per year of base funding for “special repair” projects to tackle larger maintenance projects of facility systems beyond regular maintenance funding and for emergent situations.
- Between 2015 and 2019, the Legislature provided an additional $104 million for deferred maintenance, and the 2021 Budget Act included a further $100 million. This funding will allow CDCR to pursue projects to repair and upgrade a number of critical systems (water, wastewater, electrical, fire suppression, etc.) at various prisons.
- Since 2017, the Legislature has appropriated $324.7 million for roof replacements at CCI, PVSP, SVSP, CAL, CCWF, COR, SATF, SOL, HDSP, SAC, and LAC.
- In future budgets, CDCR anticipates requesting additional funding for roof replacements at CIM, CMF, RJD, WSP, MCSP, NKSP, VSP, CEN, ASP, FSP, CTF, SCC, and PBSP.
- 20 roofs have been replaced since January 2020.
- Approximately 20 roofs are currently under construction.
- More than 100 roofs are currently under design.
Health Care Facility Improvement Program
- This program includes 145 projects across 30 prisons to improve health care facilities. 106 (73%) of these projects are complete. Work is fully complete at 6 prisons, with full completion at an additional 8 prisons expected over the next several months.
- Funding was included in the 2021 Budget Act to renovate existing health care program areas at CRC.
Notable Capital Outlay Projects
- Construction is underway at ISP to provide chilled water cooling systems for nearly all buildings. Work also includes roof replacements and fire alarm system replacement. Phased construction is scheduled to be complete in 2022.
- Construction is underway at CMC-West Facility to replace the Central Kitchen. Construction is anticipated to be complete in 2023.
- Construction is expected to begin in 2022 include a mental health crisis facility at CIM and air cooling for housing units in Facility A at CIM.