SIFC Quarterly Meeting Minutes – September 2020

Statewide Inmate Family Council / CDCR Meeting Minutes September 4, 2020

SIFC members attending:
Beth Hall, Chair, Allison Walters, Secretary, Carol Hinds, Annette DeLaTorre Flores, Beneé Vejar, Clara Velasco Garcia and Yolanda Ledesma

CDCR attending:
Tammy Foss, Gordon Wong, Marjorie Cross, Daniel Ross, Peggy Andre and Justin Penney

Meeting was called to discuss the document recently sent to all facilities Institutional Roadmap to Reopening – August 14, 2020.

There has been some questioning online and in social media as to the validity of this document. This is a valid document from CDCRs Department Operations Center (DOC) proposing a guideline to reopen programming, including visiting across the state. It is subject to revision and updates as necessary based on current conditions both statewide and at each prison. This document can be shared to any interested party. The document is appended to these minutes.

Reopening of Visiting
The phases are based on the directive from Governor Newsom on reopening the state. Currently all facilities are in Phase I, no visiting. There is no estimated timeline for any institution to move into Phase 2. The institutions report daily to headquarters.

Phase 2
Phase 2 visits will be restricted to one (1) visitor and there will be NO physical contact.

The biggest factor allowing movement into Phase 2 is the lack of positive cases of COVID-19 for a rolling cumulative of 14 days. The institutions most likely to reopen first will have had few or no inmate population/staff positive cases and low incidence of community positive cases.

Programming: First to reopen in Phase 2 will be self-help and educational programs for the population, using staff that are currently in place.

The reopening of visiting will be very limited and controlled dependent on the ability of each facility to maintain social distancing and disinfecting the visiting areas between visits. During Phase 2 visits will be restricted to one (1) visitor and there will be NO physical contact. All visitors will be screened upon entry to the grounds, temperature taken and masks worn at all times.

Phase 3
Will allow two (2) visitors, twice per month, for one (1) hour.

 Visitor Processing Appointment Scheduling System (VPASS) has remained functioning during visiting closure, which has led some visitors to believe visiting is reopening. Each institution is responsible for updating their information on the visiting website with current information, showing that visiting is closed and changing it as visiting reopens.
It has not been determined at this time if VPASS will be used to make appointments. Previously, there have been problems with multiple appointments being made and ‘no-shows’ which would greatly impact visiting when it is so limited. The appointment process may vary from institution to institution based on individual needs and capacity. There is no funding for additional visiting days.
There are three (3) weekly conference calls with institution Wardens each week. Wardens should be communicating changes of phases and updates on current conditions to their local IFCs so the information may be passed on to families and visitors. The Wardens will specifically be directed to share information on a regular basis.

Face Coverings
Additional factors affecting the move into Phase 2 are adequate staffing levels and the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  Currently, there is no PPE shortage.

PPE (masks, gloves, sanitizer) supply levels are tracked by the DOC. All institutions are currently well supplied with hand sanitizer and masks (N95, KN95 and surgical).

Mandatory Staff Testing
Mandatory staff testing is in place. Any missed, absent or refused tests are reported to the Department Operations Center (DOC). COVID-19 Test results are now being returned within 24-72 hours. At institutions with an outbreak testing equipment is on-site.

In partnership with California Correctional Health Care Services, three (3) additional healthcare positions have been authorized. The three (3) positions are nurse, analyst, and medical assistant. They will be working on contact tracing and return-to-work for staff positive tests as both a control and preventative measure. The first four (4) prisons to receive these positions are San Quentin, California Medical Facility, Central California Women’s Facility and California Health Care Facility. Eventually this will be rolled out to all institutions.

Flu Shots
Flu shots will be available in October 2020, a specific date has not been set. A flyer will be issued and posted with the information. Healthcare staff will come to the housing units to give flu shots.

Face Coverings (Staff and Inmates)
Three (3) types of masks are being issued based on institutional need. In institutions with breakouts of positive cases, N95 and KN95 masks are issued to staff and inmate workers who are in close contact with areas inhabited with positive cases. All others receive surgical masks. PIA is currently making masks with a third filtering layer to increase effectiveness without increasing breathing difficulty. Staff masks are being standardized. N95 masks will be required at outbreak institutions. Non-outbreak institutions will use surgical masks.

SB 132 The Transgender Respect, Agency and Dignity Act
FOPS Mission is supporting SB 132.  This bill changes policy to allow incarcerated individuals to be housed by their identifying gender.

AB 965 Merit Credit
SIFC asked for an update on AB 965 Sentence Reducing Credits for Youth Offenders.  When will the credits be applied? The department will research and respond.

GTL Free Phone Days
GTL has offered two (2) additional free days of calling in September. Additional future dates have been posted on social media, but have not been validated.

Miscellaneous Topics

The SIFC has received emails of inmates moving into cells with no electricity.  Specifically, California Institution for Men (CIM) and Corcoran reported these issues. Additional information on other instances was requested.  SIFC to forward emails to departmental staff.

An update on the laudatory chrono to be placed in LWOP C-files was requested. This chrono was in lieu of the credits given to others. So far no one has had this chrono go into their file.

Intake from specified county facilities has begun. Per the recent Movement Matrix, it is limited to 100 per week. Fifty (50) will go the North Kern and fifty (50) will go to Wasco.

Internal movement such as Ad/Seg back to GP will be allowed if the receiving institution is open to intake. Multiple tests will be required. Currently twenty-three (23) are closed to intake or movement. This is based on three (3) or more positive cases in the past 14 days.

Those who were moved from CIM to San Quentin may possibly be returned to CIM in the future if requested. Both CIM and SQ are closed to movement at this time.

No responses have been received for updated information requested by SIFC on issues discussed on July 29, 2020. These were basis of SB-542 funding, no carbon copy on the new GA-22 form, changes to Good Conduct Credits and the discontinuing of cashless vending by DOR.

CDCR has drafted a new letter of invitation for SIFC applicants, which is pending signature. CDCR staff is updating the list of current local IFC chairmen and members to reach out to them for increased participation at the state level. CDCR will be updating the website with this information.

The Visitor Handbook will need substantial revision and updating to address changes in visiting. This remains a work in progress.

The proposal to close one prison has gone from CDCR to the Governor’s office. It should be effective in the fall of 2021. There is a lot of behind the scenes work that must be completed to safely move inmates. Additional early releases and high-risk medical releases are continuously being reviewed.

Has there been a delay in the public comment portion of the OAL emergency regulation on 1170? CDCR will research and respond. Referrals are still being taken and reviewed.

Kathleen Allison will be replacing Ralph Diaz as CDCR Secretary effective October 1. Jeffrey Macomber will move from Undersecretary of Administration to Undersecretary of Operations.

The meeting was adjourned at 2 p.m.
The next meeting will be held: TBD