SIFC Quarterly Visiting Workgroup – February 2020
SIFC Visiting Workgroup, February 7, 2020
Statewide Inmate Family Council (SIFC) Members:
- Christina Mendoza, Chairperson
- Mary Ann Ellis-Jammal, Vice Chairperson
- Allison Walters, Secretary
- Clara Velasco
- Maureen Mitchell
- Carol Hind
- Yolanda Ledesma
- Annette DelaTorre
- Beth Hall
California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR)
- Gordon Wong, Correctional Captain, FOPS/SH
- Marjorie Cross, Correctional Counselor II, Statewide Visiting Coordinator
- Peggy Andre, Executive Assistant
- Troy Williams
Introductions began at 8:15am
Tammy Foss welcomed the group and introduced herself as the new Associate Director over Female Offender Programs and Services (FOPS) which also covers Visiting and SIFC. She shared that she had other scheduled responsibilities that morning but she looks forward to working with SIFC in the future.
SIFC requested two changes to the bylaws from 2008. The group would like to add that applicants attend a meeting as a guest to assess the responsibility before becoming a member. The second addition would include that SIFC can vote to remove a disruptive or non-attending member.
Marjorie Cross recommended that the changes be formally written and submitted to her and she would submit them for consideration.
Ms. Cross shared a letter that she sent to a visitor for breaking the rules and selling appointments on social media. The letter served as a warning that such continued behavior could result in the visitor losing the privilege to visit their loved one.
The group brainstormed ideas to resolve VPASS misuse. Suggestions included visitors using their drivers license numbers to make an account or VPASS assigning ID numbers to log in. CDCR acknowledged that this is a problem and they will strive for improvement.
FAMILY VISITING POLICIES
There was a request to allow flush-able wipes into Family Visiting. This request was denied due to the burden this would place on the facilities septic systems. A compromise was reached when Marjorie Cross said families can bring in their own toilet paper in sealed packaging.
UMBRELLAS AND HOODS DURING WET WEATHER
Umbrellas and hoods are not allowed for safety and security reasons. Clear rain ponchos and rain bonnets are permitted. Rain boots are allowed if they are the only shoes worn.
CLARIFICATION OF THE WORD “DETAINED”
Number 12 on the visiting application asks: Have you ever been detained, arrested or convicted of a crime? There have been cases of applicants being denied for lying when it may be a misunderstanding of the meaning of the word “detained.” Ms. Cross explained that any contact with a police officer would be considered detained, including a car stop. SIFC expressed concern that noise violations etc. have also caused denial and asked for reasonable boundaries. Denial should be based on safety and security issues not a misunderstanding. Lying on an application causes the loss to reapply for 6 months. Ms. Cross explained that visiting staff conference calls have included conversations regarding this matter and staff is aware that there is a big difference between omitting and falsifying information. The new family handguide will have language explaining the need to be specific on this question however the handguide does not accompany the application. SIFC requested that further conversation regarding this policy be conducted at the next visiting training session on March 6th.
CLOTHING POSTERS FOR ALL FACILITIES
Ms. Cross explained that no new posters have been generated yet and all old posters are to be removed.
VISITING A FRIEND OR LOVED ONE IN PRISON HANDBOOK UPDATE Marjorie Cross shared a draft copy for suggestions.
FOLLOW UP ON BEHIND THE GLASS PHOTOS
Behind the glass photos during visiting with a non-contact inmate are permitted.
Adjourn Meeting at 0955