SIFC Quarterly Meeting Minutes – August 2019

Statewide Inmate Family Council / CDCR Meeting Minutes Friday, August 2, 2019

Amy Miller, FOPS, brought the meeting to order and made introductions.

Kathleen Allison, Undersecretary, gave a welcome emphasizing the importance of SIFC communication and expressed CDCR’s commitment to visitor training to improve and enhance the family experience, especially in light of the SB1437 changes that are allowing so many more inmates a chance to go home.


A.   Programming Yards – Update

NDPF has rolled out to the Minimum Support Facilities, Level II yards and Fire Camps. Eight facilities are fully NDPF, but most institutions just have a few yards which are NDPF. There are 48,000 NDPF beds available: currently approximately 32,000 of those beds are filled.CMC and CMF are intermediate care facilities. Level II and Level III inmates are on the NDPF yards there. This provides expanded programming and educational opportunities that would not be available otherwise.

There are also several Positive Programming Facilities (PPF). PPF yards are different than NDPF yards. PPF yards still identify as either GP or SNY. PPF was previously only available to the GP population, CDCR is now rolling out to both to SNY and GP inmates. Lancaster had great success with LWOPs and Lifers receiving commutations from the Positive Programming classes. LAC currently houses GP inmates on their PPF yard. Three additional facilities will be opening Positive Programming Facilities. They are: CCI, opening 7/1 for SNY Level III, Solano, FAC-A, opening 11/1 and High Desert, SNY Level III opening 3/1/2020. Inmates must apply to be on these yards.

Most NDPF yard are working well. There remain some problems with inmates who do not want to program. Violent or predatory acts will cause a transfer.

B.  Corcoran Lockdown/Modified Program

Corcoran remains on Modified Programming for inmates associated with identified Security Threat Group I and Security Threat Group II (gang) affiliation.  The SIFC notes there have been a number of altercations on the yards with reports from families that inmates are stating the altercations are staff instigated. The SIFC also reports that inmates have been on a hunger strike to emphasize change needs to be made. Corcoran hunger strike is due to Custody staff removing all GP inmates from the kitchen, replacing them with SNY inmates from another yard. The SIFC notes that critical workers are still allowed to perform their job when a modified program is in place. The SIFC also notes this particular yard is still a GP yard and not NDPF.

Headquarters is aware of the altercations/reports and is monitoring the facility.

Inmates are being transferred to restricted housing (ASU) if they actively engage in violence. CDCR stated the department will not be going back to segregated yards based on gang affiliation. Inmates need to realize prison is a mirror of outside society and inmates must get along with all kinds of people just as they would out in the community. CDCR also requested family encouragement and support as a tool to modify aggressive behavior.

Integrated Substance Use Disorder Treatment (ISUDT) Program

Substance abuse (overdoses) is the third leading cause of death.  With activation of the ISUDT Program, priority will be given to three groups; inmates with 12-18 months to release, inmates with a history of overdose or Hepatitis C and inmates enrolled in MADT.  ISUDT will be a behavior modification program that will include Cognitive Behavior Therapy, nursing support and possibly a medical program.

The Medically Assisted Drug Treatment (MADT) program will be a whole person system of case management with transition planning, cohort programming and therapeutic housing. There will be liaisons from outside agencies (county services and hospitals) to continue the support after release. Family participation and support will be enlisted and encouraged.

Electronic Devices

The original pilot program for tablets ended. A new pilot program has started but it has not been extended to any new facilities. The new pilot program is expected to eventually have increased capabilities including the ability to file a grievance, request healthcare services and access educational materials. The new pilot program also involves providing a tablet to all offenders for use.

CDCR is evaluating the pilot program to determine if it is something that can be expanded in the future.  CDCR notes there are still security concerns regarding internet access that will need to be addressed. If CDCR decides to implement this program beyond the pilot program, it is expected that several vendors would submitting proposals for consideration.

New Parole Process

A handout on Structured Decision Making Framework (SDMF) was given and will be posted on the CDCR SIFC site. It is an adjunct to the current Comprehensive Risk Assessment used for parole. It is not mandatory for commissioners to use this. It is intended to increase transparency and improve analysis of factors for parole while still complying with the legal requirements.

Dietary Changes

There have been state-wide changes in the food being served in the dining halls. There was a review to develop menu expectations to increase the amount of healthy food and reduce carbohydrates and fats. More fresh vegetables and fruits are being provided. The number of slices of bread served with the lunches has been reduced from four (4) slices to two (2).  Overall there has been an increase in the amount of protein.  The changes have been well received and there has been increased attendance at the chow halls resulting in less food waste. A new provider for the lunches has been selected and will start next year. Samples were passed around to show the amounts and variety of food. There is no increase in the amount of soy or “pouched” foods expected.

Thank You’s

  • Food Sales

    Twenty-four (24) facilities have held food sales and all institutions are being encouraged to find ways to make them happen within the new volunteering structure. It is a challenge especially in rural locations. Food sales are a popular fundraiser and a chance for inmates to give back.
  • Out of State Prisoners
    With the exception of seventeen (17) inmates who have pending criminal charges in Arizona, all out of state inmates have now been returned.

    The next reduction will be in-state Contract Beds. Legislation is currently being considered that would prohibit CDCR from housing inmates in private prisons. Currently there are less than 2000 CDCR inmates in private prisons in CA.
  • SIFC Website
    Prompt approval of minutes and the posting minutes and additional information sources is appreciated.
  • Visiting Money Increase
    This is still pending. The Secretary has agreed to an increase while CDCR continues to review vending machine operations statewide.  CDCR Office of Labor Relations is currently reviewing the proposed change to determine if notice is required.  This expected to take about 60 days.
  • Inmate Welfare Fund  SB542
    The SB542 funds are allocated based on canteen sales, inmate population and visiting numbers.  Based on the reduced population, most dollar amounts have been reduced for the next year.  Purchases must be based on recommendations from Inmate Advisory Councils and Inmate Family Councils.

    A memorandum dated July 19, 2019, provides the information for the 2019-20 fiscal year, including the amount of money allocated for each facility and a list of acceptable purchases. This information will be posted on the SIFC site.
  • Reduction in Phone Rates
    Call rates at Adult Facilities were reduced by GTL effective July 1. In-state calls are $1.23 per 15 minute call. Out-of-state calls remain $3.15 per 15 minute call.

    One thousand (1000) additional phones are being installed in prisons statewide. The target date for completion of installation is January 2020. At that time an additional rate reduction is expected.

    GTL has deleted the 30 second call cut off notice during calls and will work on reducing the volume of the 60 second call end notification, so that there will be less interruption during the conversation.
  • Family Visiting Funds
    CDCR is currently working with approved vendors to create a way to electronically deposit money for Family Visiting.  More information should be available at the next meeting.

The meeting was adjourned at 3 p.m.

The next quarterly meeting will be November 1, 2019