SIFC Quarterly Meeting Minutes – November 2019

Statewide Inmate Family Council / CDCR Meeting Minutes November 1, 2019

The meeting was brought to order by Connie Gipson, Director, Division of Adult Institutions (DAI) at 1 pm.  Introductions by attendees were given around the room. 

Ms. Gipson spoke briefly about her recent trip to Norway to observe their prison facilities and the comparison of their programs to those in the U.S.  The Norwegian correctional system is based on the principles of normality and humanity. Incarceration itself is considered the punishment and all other programming is in support of returning inmates to society as productive citizens.  This system has been in place for about 30 years.

Ms. Gipson also mentioned Census 2020 and encouraged participation in the census.  The census effects how money and services are allocated.

Agenda Items:

  1. Programming Yards Update

    • With policy change will established Non-Designated Programming Facility (NDPF) continue?

      NDPF yards will remain as established.  NDPFs provide access to educational and programming opportunities to more inmates at the lower security levels than separate GP and SNY facilities can provide individually.

      The last conversion was just completed at CCC.  All camps and Level II institutions and below have been converted into NDPFs as well as all EOP facilities and the institutions with medical missions (California Medical Facility in Vacaville and California Health Care Facility in Stockton). Approximately 44,000 inmates are currently programming in the NDPFs.  There is no plan to change these yards.  Inmates that do not program on these yards will be removed as previously discussed.

    • Will there be changes, specifically increased numbers, of Positive Programming Facilities (PPF)? What is the early experience at CCI?

      PPFs began at the California Correctional Institution (CCI).  A Yard at the California State Prison Los Angeles County (LAC) in Lancaster activated in July 2019 and additional activations are forthcoming.  The warden at LAC reports that there has been a significant reduction in RVRs (115s).  California State Prison Solano (SOL), A yard will become a PPF effective November 4, 2019 and High Desert, A yard, will follow, opening March 2, 2020.

  2. Corcoran Modified Program:  Update on Resolution

    There continues to be a recognized issue with the Bulldog and Sureño factions at three institutions (Corcoran State Prison, Pleasant Valley State Prison and California Training Facility); all are on modified programming.  This issue and the existing struggle is often confused with the struggles experienced by the NDPFs in the media. CCDR is responsible for safely housing inmates and providing programming accessibility as well as the safety of staff.  At these facilities, certain inmates are attempting to dictate policy.  

    CDCR is currently strategizing and exploring additional options to address this issue including bringing in outside mediation.  Secretary Diaz has made finding a way to return to normal programming a high priority item.  CDCR is currently strategizing and exploring additional options to address this issue including bringing in outside mediation.  Secretary Diaz has made finding a way to return to normal programming a high priority item.

  3. Integrated Substance Use Disorder Treatment Update

    Integrated Substance Use Disorder Treatment (ISUDT) will be implemented at all 35 institutions including the Community Correctional Facilities at Taft, Shafter, McFarland and Delano January 2020.  Several million dollars have been allocated the next fiscal year for these programs.

    This is a coordinated effort with many state agencies involved.  The integrated program includes cognitive behavior training and the use of inmate mentors from the Offender Mentor Certification Program (OMCP) in peer-to-peer counseling.   There are networks being set up with county agencies to provide continuity in services when inmates are released.  Transitional Case Management Program (TCMP) and Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) will coordinate with the inmates for these services, after released; paid for by medical.  Before release, inmates are signed up for medical in their county of release.  There are still issues of transferring medical eligibility from county to county, but inmates are signed up for their county of release.

  4. Electronic Devices- New Pilot Program and potential for expansion

    The current pilot program is in five facilities (Kern Valley State Prison, Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Corcoran, High Desert State Prison, California Institution for Women and Central California Women’s Facility).  The tablets are primarily used for communications and educational programs such as GED and adult secondary education.  There are also a number of classes available for parole transition.  Two classes with Milestone credits are available and college classes can be proctored through the counselor and given credit.  Those classes are also available on the TV. The feedback from CIW has been very positive for the email/video program.  CDCR is evaluating what it would look like to have tablets available statewide, but it is still in the planning stages. While there is no definite date, CDCR is hoping to expand access to additional inmates in 2020.

    In the future inmates will have secure wireless access to AZTEC a private cloud network.  This will increase educational opportunities.

    The SIFC did report a concern related to the implementation of the “tablet pilot program” regarding the purchase of typewriter.  Specifically, it has been reported that typewriters are not available for purchase through the vendors.  The word is that vendors nationwide are phasing these out as tablets become the norm.  CDCR was unaware of this but advised SIFC that we cannot force vendors to carry specific items for sale.

  5. Dietary Changes

    • Continued appreciation for more fresh food choices
      There have has been reports of less fresh food since the end of summer.  Fresh food is seasonal and based on market availability and price.  
      There are new menu items and menus are monitored monthly for compliance.   There are allowed substitutions.  Contracts are utilized to provide price stability.

      There is a new video program to be aired on the TV as well as posters to encourage better food selection and eating habits.

      A “Healthier Canteen Choices” program has also been rolled out in twelve (12) prisons so far with good reception from the inmates.  All prisons will begin seeing healthier canteen options before the end of 2019.

      There will be follow up to monitor if the new menu and the Healthier Canteen Choices program have positive health effects.

    • Any information on new vendor selected for next year

      No specific info was given on a new vendor.

  6. Visiting Money Increase: Update

    The amount of money visitors can bring in has increased to $70 per adult and $40 per minor.  A memorandum was issued effective November 2, 2019 and sent to all facility visiting staff. The Memorandum has been posted on the SIFC website.

    Cashless Vending is still a pilot program only available in a few institutions; however, CDCR is looking into expanding this program statewide.

  7. Family Visiting Funds: Update on electronic deposit for funds

    The contracts have been amended with the vendors to include this type of transaction. There will need to be regulation and DOM changes made to accommodate this as well as form changes.  They are close to a “testing” period, but no date is set yet.

    An additional option may be to allow food for family visits to be purchased directly from an approved local store. CTF has implemented a program like this where the visitor pays the grocery store for the food being purchased for the family visit and the store delivers the food to the institution for a fee.  This reduces the workload for the Accounting Office and the Family Visiting officers.  This has been working well at CTF.

  8. Telephones
    • Installation of additional inmate phones update

      Installation is still in progress with a total of 1331 phones being installed statewide. 411 have been installed already with 811 expected to be completed by December 31.  Remaining phones to be installed in 2020.  

    • We appreciate CDCR negotiations for decreased phone rates as well as efforts to limit phone interruptions

      Another rate decrease for in-state calls will go into effect January 1, 2020.  The new rate will be $1.14 for a 15 minute call.  A request was made for GTL to reduce the cost for out-of-state calls which have not had a rate reduction for some time.

      SIFC did bring up a concern regarding blocks on particular area codes from institutional (staff) phones.  CDCR will look into this issue.  This is an issue when staff are trying to contact an inmate’s family for some reason.

  9. Institution Repairs:  Last meeting this item was tabled and we are requesting more information on which institutions and what specific repairs will be undertaken. Also, we would appreciate information on budget available for these repairs.

    There was a link posted on the SIFC site in the May minutes to the CDCR Roof Replacement Needs schedule.  Nine institutions are currently funded. There are seven phases for additional repairs to be made beginning with fiscal year 2021 (Phase 1). f there are critical issues that are not being addressed that should be communicated to staff.  There will be an update at the February SIFC meeting.

    Natural disasters and evacuation plans were discussed. Each institution has an emergency plan that can be activated. This is coordinated with county and city resources through CAL-OES (California Office of Emergency Services).

  10. AB 1812 Sentencing Reform. Specifically Item 1170(d) Since CDCR has received additional funds to review and make recommendations for resentencing, we would appreciate any information on what CDCR process changes will follow.

    Referral for 1170(d) comes directly from staff.  Inmates may not self-refer and referrals may not come from families or inmate advocacy groups.  The referrals can be based on exceptional conduct, sentencing changes and retroactive law changes.  Each referral is logged and the cases are worked up by the Classification Services Unit (CSU). For exceptional conduct, CSU reviews the records and then forwards the case to the Secretary.  Only the Secretary can refer a case to the sentencing court for consideration.  No pending regulations effect this process.  Guidelines are in place to help with the evaluation.  Inmates are not “rejected”.  If the Secretary does not forward a case to the courts, the inmate’s name remains on the log for later reconsideration.

    A number of factors are reviewed from the Cumulative Case Summary (CCS) including length of incarceration, type of offense, term of sentence, juvenile history and CDCR history.  In prison adjustments as well as RVRs, education, programming (self-help) and job history are reviewed.  Also included are any laudatory chronos, medical and mental health issues.  The review is routed to the Director and then to the Secretary.  The Secretary can decide to take action and forward the case to the court or to take no action.  If no action is taken the report is filed in the inmates Central File.  If the inmate’s case is forwarded to the sentencing court, the court also has the option whether or not to take additional action on the case.

    This year 2019, 127 exceptional conduct cases have been completed.  Of those 127 only 15 had no action taken on them by the Secretary, 107 were sent to the court.  The court responded to 46 of the cases with 26 inmates getting resented or a sentence reduction.  5 remaining cases completed but pending the Director’s review or the Secretary’s review.

    There were 166 gun enhancement cases sent to the Secretary for review.  No action was taken on 26, 137 were forwarded to the courts with 65 court responses and 15 reductions.    3 remaining cases completed but pending the Director’s review or the Secretary’s review.

    The savings resulting from these reductions and resentencing were more than three million dollars.

    • Some counselors have been rejecting LWOP referrals that otherwise meet the referral standards.

      Counselors should not be denying any referrals.  There are LWOPs on the log, but no LWOP referrals have been reviewed yet. Even though the law does not exclude LWOPs there are limited resources to process the reviews. Currently CDCR is prioritizing those most likely to be acted on by the courts. There are about 700 cases on the exceptional conduct log.

      District Attorneys also have the discretion to do 1170(d) cases.  That process is different that the process used by CDCR.

      If inmates receive a rejection at the facility level with LWOP listed as a reason they should submit a copy to headquarters for review. There continues to be some confusion on the correct process that headquarters could address with additional training and information for both inmates and staff. There are several different law changes that are often confused and mixed up.

      It is an involved review and inmates are reminded to be patient. Inmates may submit a commutation packet to the Governor’s office.

  11. SIFC Updates
    • We appreciate receiving contact information for local IFC’s and are in process of designating each SIFC member 3-4 prisons to support.

      There will be an email sent to the facility IFCs with contact information.
    • We appreciate Visiting Staff Education Session and are planning a Local IFC Training Session.

      Visitor education programs were suggested particularly for the Reception Centers (Wasco, North Kern, San Quentin, DVI, CIM and CCWF) to give information to families and visitors.


The meeting was adjourned at 3 p.m.

The next quarterly meeting will be February 7, 2020.

Submitted by: Allison Walters, SIFC Secretary

NOTE:  Four members were approved and added to the SIFC to bring the council to full complement plus one additional Member-at-Large.  The new members are Yolanda Ledesma (CCI), Carol Hinds (CMC), Beneé Vejar (CCC) and Yolanda Stokes (SQ) (SIFC Members).