May 5, 2023, 10 a.m.
SIFC members in attendance: Beth Hall, Allison Walters, Clara Garcia, Hannah Yang, Cindy Jackson, and Staci Parish-Phillips.
Meeting was brought to order and facilitated by Dan Ross.
In attendance: Michael MaGee and Theresa Ross.
Introductions all around.
Video Visiting on Sundays
Video visiting on Sundays will end July 7, 2023. Incarcerated people will be able to use their tablets to video visit with loved ones. All institutions should have their tablets by the time video visiting ends. Approximately 700,000 people are signed up for VSA. One benefit the tablets offers to CDCR is the ability to distribute information to incarcerated people much easier.
Visiting Dress Codes and Allowable Items
CDCR said the recent clothing chart that was sent to institutions, needs some editing. SIFC was asked if they had any suggestions before they finish with it. SIFC suggested the words, “There are no disallowed colors” be added to the chart because it would solve many ongoing issues that are happening at many, if not all, institutions. Many institutions are telling visitors certain colors are not allowed. Examples were given for people being turned away from visiting, which include, but are not limited to, wearing gray, (or gray on gray), green, blue, red on Fridays, white, brown, body suits, and leggings because they have no pockets. Torn or ripped pants are also an issue at several institutions. People are being turned away for rips in pants that are too high up, (over the 2” above the knee rule), and turned away for any rips in their pants and shirts at all. CDCR will look into the ripped pant issue. SIFC added there is a disparity from visitor to visitor as well two people can wear the same outfit and the slim person will be allowed in and the larger curvy person will be turned away. Other things people are being turned away for are documents and photos. CDCR confirmed that visitors are allowed to bring in 10 photos, (no larger than 8×10), and 10 documents. Hair clips and little girl hair bows are also an issue in many institutions. The list of institution visiting processing rules have no consistency. SIFC suggested vendors put sports bras and maybe black T-shirts in the vending machines for those institutions that do not have Friends Outside.
CDCR is going to have all institutions send their DOM supplements up to Sacramento for evaluation prior to their next visiting training at CDCR headquarters.
Staff Visiting Training
CDCR said there will be a visiting staff training day on a Wednesday in June and no visiting on a Friday to train local staff. CDCR recently started a work group that has a cross section of representatives from different security institutions to get different perspectives and work on consistency. SIFC asked if there could be a visitor also in the group. CDCR said they could possibly have a visitor come periodically.
SIFC suggested that CDCR create a CD that can be passed from officer to officer for training purposes because training in person can’t be done enough when changes in staff happen so often. SIFC feels the training should be in person, via CD, Zoom, or online to be effective. These trainings need to use visuals of what is acceptable, officers need to be able to see pictures of clothing and colors that are acceptable.
Mule Creek, San Quintin, and SCC have lost their vendors. Interviews are being held soon. It’s possible that Mule Creek and SCC will share a vendor.
Visiting applications are in the process of being updated. Applicants will still have background checks, however, they will not need to remember and list criminal history on the application. CDCR ran a survey and found Federal Bureau of Prisons does not ask visitors for it, nor does DJJ, so CDCR is going to adopt the same policy and not ask for the visitor’s criminal history to be listed. They will add the visitors email address to the application, amongst other things. This will require changes to Title 15 and can take a year or more to accomplish.
Children Visiting Proof of Age
Calipatria is requiring a photo and birth certificate while processing minors. CDCR will follow up and correct this policy.
People are still getting their video visits and in person visits cancelled after coming out of family visit on one yard at Mule Creek and at James Town. CDCR will research this issue.
Some institutions, specifically Old Folsom and Lancaster, are requiring a full background check for every family visit. CDCR will be calling the institutions to fix this issue. Visiting applications shall not be updated any sooner than 2 years.
Pelican Bay, High Desert, and Sac are disqualifying people when they update their application to visit for omitted information or unchecked boxes. The disqualifications often come with little or no explanations and the visitor must wait a lengthy amount of time such as 60 or 90 days to renew again. Upcoming changes to the applications will eliminate these problems. These institutions will receive a call to rectify the issue.
Lubricant in family visits: Kern, North Kern, Pleasant Valley and Avenal are still saying no, lubricant is not allowed. Valley State, Calipatria, Ironwood, CMC allows lubricant only with a doctor’s note. CDCR confirmed that lubricant is allowed and they will clarify and correct this situation.
Families would like the ability to leave a family visit to make a well check call home to a loved one or dependents. Many ideas were discussed and the institutions are site specific. CDCR will research and try to make this possible.
Some institution are allowing a photo to be taken during family visiting. All institutions would like to be able to take a picture of the family. It might be possible that pictures can be taken when they are dropped off for the family visit. CDCR will bring it to the visiting work group to try and make it possible.
CMF, Solano, and San Quentin do not currently have a Friends Outside facility available to visitors. This is currently being addressed and should be rectified soon.
CDCR stated that local IFCs may request the local DOM supplements for visiting and mailroom from their local institutions. These supplements are very inconsistent and CDCR will be reviewing them soon. SIFC also mentioned that the current 2023 DOM has a misprint regarding the allowable amount of money brought into visiting. The correct amount is $70 per adult and $40 per child.
TransMetro is working on the problems that have been reported. Ride numbers are rising.
Tablet Policy and Procedures
Has there been any policy or procedure written in the regard to tablet rules and hours of operation? CDCR reported that creating policy is currently underway. There is no estimated time of completion due to the lengthy process to change regulations and Title 15.
Tablet Video Visits
Video visits for some, (that were visiting from a car), were terminated because it could not be determined if the person was the driver and was actively driving at the time of the visit. Video visiting while driving is not permitted, it is against the law according to DMV 23123. However, if you are visiting hands free and not driving, you can visit on the tablet. Video visits are not considered in person visits and cannot be counted against people when terminations are implemented for overcrowding or distance.
CDCR has not supported IFC fundraising and will consider changes to the local by-laws to be consistent with the SIFC by-laws. Donations of games etc. are acceptable. This is something the visiting work group will discuss.
Hobby Craft Programs
Mail outs for Hobby Craft using R&R, has a minimum charge of $11. Some institutions are not allowing mail under 13oz to go out as first class mail and the incarcerated needs to send as a package, FedEx, etc. CDCR will look into this. IFC suggested putting postal scales in all the dayrooms so they can weigh their letters for postal weights.