The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) produced its 10th independent oversight report after it evaluated prison reforms proposed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). State law mandates that the OIG periodically assess the state’s prison reforms.
The inspector general’s 55- page Blueprint Monitoring, Tenth Report, scrutinizes re- forms identified by the CDCR in its report titled “The Future of California Corrections.” Some of its many goals are to improve the state’s prison system, save taxpayers billions of dollars and end oversight by the federal court.
“The OIG sent staff to each of the department’s 35 adult institutions,” IG report said. “During which time they reviewed and reconciled departmental documents, inter- viewed staff, and observed departmental programs in operation.”
Matched with its July 2018 report, “the OIG’s review of rehabilitative programming found 92% of the academic education and 82% of the career technical education programs operating during our on-site visits,” IG reported. “This was a 2% point in- crease in academic education courses that were in operation.”
It was reported that there was no change in career technical education programs in operation.
In addition, the report noted, “The department is slowly transitioning its lower- level housing facilities (I and II) into Non-Designated Programming Facilities (NDPF), as inmates in these facilities are deemed “programming” inmates,” the IG reported. “The focus of the NDPF is to offer an environment that provides greater rehabilitative opportunities for in- mates demonstrating positive programming efforts.” The NDPF’s do not identify prisoners in them as being on a sensitive needs yard or general population yard.
The CDCR continues to develop its plan to create two options for housing its prison- ers as either “programming and non-programming sensitive needs yards (SNYs),” it was reported. It also continues to focus on the expansion of its NDPFs which are now at 33 of the 35 adult prisons.
The OIG noted that the CDCR continues to make changes to its population in sensitive needs yards (SNYs). It noted that SNYs are the fastest growing population in the prison system, with roughly 41,000 prisoners.
“These facilities (NDPFs) are designed to provide rehabilitative environments for offenders who have demonstrated positive programming efforts and a desire to refrain from violent behaviors,” the OIG reported.
Also, in fiscal year 2018-19, there was a “slight decrease” throughout the CDCR rehabilitative programming model in areas allocated for substance use disorder treatment. During this same period, however, there was an increase in the spaces for pre- employment transitions and cognitive-behavioral treatment.
In its summary, the OIG said the CDCR did not meet its goal of having 70% of prisoners in its population receive rehabilitative programming “consistent with their criminogenic needs prior to their release.”
“The department demonstrated that only 52% of of- fenders in its target population met this objective during fiscal year 2015–16, the last fiscal year the department tracked this benchmark,” the report said.
The inspector general concluded in its field work that 526 of the 572 academic positions in the CDCR were completely operational. That’s a 92% rate of compliance which reflected 2% growth in academic programs, which included 35 added positions since the 2018 review of the Blueprint.
“Our review identified that the California Institution for Men had the highest number of vacant academic education positions…”, the OIG reported.
“Our review of vacancy rates for academic education positions shows 23 of 35 prisons (66%) had a vacancy rate at 10% or below,” the OIG re- ported. “Three prisons, California Institution for Men, High Desert State Prison, and California State Prison, Solano, had vacancy rates be- tween 21 to 30%.”
In its career technical edu- cation, the CDCR recognized 304 career technical educa- tion positions that it budgeted for fiscal year 2018–19.
“Upon completion of field- work, the report “found 249 of the 304 positions were filled and fully operational,” An 82% rate of compliance. “Our review identified that California State Prison, Corcoran, had the highest percentage of career technical education programs not operational.”
“The review of vacancy rates statewide for career technical education showed that 22 of 35 prisons (63%) had a vacancy rate over 10%,” the OIG reported. “Two prisons had a vacancy rate exceeding 40%, California State Prison, Corcoran, and Valley State Prison.”
The OIG report said the CDCR describes pre-employment programs as a means to provide prisoners with employment skills to prepare them for successful reentry and transition back to society. Its staff reviewed the CDCR records and conducted visits to facilities to evaluate the status of pre-employment programs.
“The OIG found that 1,479 of the planned 2,536 daily slots were fully operational,” the report said, adding that it was a 58% rate of compliance. This was an increase of 8% in compliance since its 2018 Blueprint report.
The Blueprint also re- ported “4,669 of the planned 5,376 daily slots fully operational.” This was an 87% rate of compliance which reflected a “4% increase in the ratio of occupied to available daily program slots since (its) 2018 report…”
The inspector general found the CDCR had expanded its long-term offender program (LTOP) to 30 of its 35 prisons. LTOP is voluntary and provides treatment to prisoners who’ve been sentenced to a life term in prison, with the possibility of parole. These prisoners must appear before the Board of Parole Hearings to be found suitable for release.
The OIG noted the CDCR was under a court order to reduce overcrowding by reducing its prison population to 137.5% of design capacity, and that the department had met the court-ordered bench-mark.
“The department’s up- date noted that the court reaffirmed that the department would remain under the jurisdiction of the court for as long as necessary to continue compliance with this benchmark,” the OIG reported.
The OIG also continues to monitor the CDCR’s implementation of Proposition 57, the class action lawsuit Ashker v. Brown, the Step Down Program, Security Threat Groups and other legal actions.
The inspector general report concluded, in part, that the CDCR “has shown recent improvements in meeting the Blueprint goals regarding filling academic education positions, resulting in a vacancy rate of 8%.” The report did say, however, that “standardized staffing for career technical education positions remains problematic, with a relatively high vacancy rate of 18%.”
The Office of the Inspector General recommended the CDCR take the following steps to meet its staffing level goals for rehabilitative programming:
• Promptly advertise and recruit for all statewide vacant academic and career technical education teacher positions
• Prioritize its recruitment and filling of both the longest running (over one year, over six months, etc.) and the highest number of teacher vacancies.
• Establish an experienced worker program to identify a pool of experienced former teachers, who would be willing to come back to work as retired annuitants.
• Require monthly updates from each supervisor of correctional education programs (principal) of courses that are not operational for which a teacher is assigned, but unable to provide instruction.
“As of May 8, 2019, departmental figures show an in-state prison population of 114,471 inmates housed in the state’s 34 adult institutions,16 with a design capacity of 85,083, equaling 134.5% of design capacity,” the OIG reported.