Friday, March 24, 2017

Secretary Scott Kernan Announces Proposition 57 Regulations

Sacramento – Secretary Scott Kernan with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) formally announced that the Department has published regulations for Proposition 57 - The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016. The regulations can be viewed at https://oal.blogs.ca.gov/files/2017/03/2017-0324-01EON.pdf

“Last November, California voters overwhelmingly passed Prop. 57, by 64 percent to 35 percent. The Proposition required us to promulgate regulations establishing a non-violent parole process and credit earning criteria in the best interest of public safety. I believe we have done that with the regulations as the new processes put a greater responsibility on the inmates to participate in meaningful programs and earn their release. That is the spirit of Prop. 57,” said Secretary Kernan.



To access Prop. 57 resources and to locate Department program information or services, please visit www.cdcr.ca.gov/oeaAs required by the new law, California’s prison system aims to increase opportunities and incentives for rehabilitation. To design the basic framework, CDCR leadership consulted with key stakeholders, such as crime victims groups, law enforcement, criminal justice leaders, public defenders, district attorneys, and California leaders.

The initiative creates a durable solution to help the department implement common-sense prison population reduction measures to avoid court-ordered inmate releases. Currently, CDCR is under a federal court order to not exceed the prison population past 137.5% of design capacity. Without a durable solution, a Court Compliance Officer may order the release of inmates if the population cap is exceeded. For more information please visit http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/proposition57/

The proposed regulations intend to revise or establish credit-earning programs and a parole consideration process for non-violent offenders. Existing milestone completion credits, credits for good conduct, and extraordinary conduct credits will be revised or retained. New credits for rehabilitation achievement and educational merit will become available. This is intended to encourage inmates to take more responsibility for their own rehabilitation while in prison by participating in credit earning programs and avoiding misconduct. Inmates will earn credits contingent upon offenders remaining in good standing.

It is anticipated that the new law will help the Department establish a durable solution to comply with the Federal court-ordered population cap of 137.5 percent of design capacity without having to rely on court-ordered inmate releases. Without the passage of Prop. 57, the state prison population is projected to continue to increase and it is possible that without additional population reduction measures the Department would approach or exceed design capacity in the next 18-24 months. 

If that were to occur, a Court Compliance Officer would have the authority to release inmates to allow CDCR to stay under the cap. The implementation of Prop. 57 and other population-reduction measures will allow CDCR to remove all inmates from one of two remaining out-of-state facilities in 2017-18.
 
As the impact of Prop. 57 grows, the Department anticipates returning all inmates from leased out-of-state facilities by 2020. Currently, there are approximately 4,300 inmates housed outside of California.

Credit Earning
By passing Prop. 57, voters tasked CDCR with the responsibility of promulgating regulations to provide for inmates to earn credits if they complete approved rehabilitative programs and activities. Good Conduct Credit, Milestone Completion Credit, and Rehabilitative Achievement Credit will be applied prospectively and will be phased-in between now and the end of Summer. Educational Merit Credit will apply retrospectively if earned during the inmate’s current term of incarceration.

Good Conduct Credits
  • Granted to inmates with the expectation that they will remain disciplinary free
  • The amount of Good Conduct Credits many inmates are eligible to receive will increase
Milestone Completion Credits
  • Earned when an inmate completes a specific education or vocational program that has attendance and performance requirements
  • The maximum amount of time an inmate can earn for Milestone Completion Credits will increase from 6 weeks per year to 12 weeks 
Rehabilitative Achievement Credits
  • Earned when an inmate participates in approved rehabilitative service and self-help groups which requires attendance and satisfactory participation
  • These groups must be approved by the warden of the institution
  • Inmates can earn up to 4 weeks of credit per year
Educational Merit Credit
  • Earned for successful completion and award, while incarcerated, of a GED, high school diploma, college degree or alcohol and drug counselor certification
  • One-time credit awarded for each level of educational achievement earned during the inmate’s current term
Credit Forfeiture
Eligible inmates can earn credits while incarcerated for their good behavior and for their participation in, and completion of, specific rehabilitative, educational or other programs. Some credits may be forfeited as a result of disciplinary infractions while others are not forfeitable. Inmates have the right to appeal any forfeiture of credit and the credits will be restored if the disciplinary action is reversed as a result of an administrative appeal or a court action.
  • Good Conduct Credits, Milestone Completion Credits, and Rehabilitative Achievement Credits are subject to forfeiture for disciplinary reasons. 
  • Educational Merit Credits and Extraordinary Conduct Credits for extraordinary heroism are not subject to forfeiture for disciplinary reasons.
Juvenile Justice
The new law requires that all juvenile offenders who committed their crimes prior to age 18 have a hearing in juvenile court before being transferred to adult court. Specifically, it only allows a juvenile felony offender age 16 or 17 to be transferred to adult court, or age 14 or 15 for certain more serious felonies listed in state law. It is estimated that there will be an increase of 72 juvenile wards as a result of these changes due to the anticipated increase in juvenile court commitments.

Non-Violent Offender Parole Consideration
Prop. 57 creates a process for non-violent offenders who have served the full term for their primary criminal offense to be considered for parole by the Board of Parole Hearings. The full term of their primary offense means the longest term of imprisonment imposed by the court for any offense, excluding the imposition of enhancement, consecutive sentence, or alternative sentence.

Parole consideration will be for eligible non-violent offenders who pass a public-safety screening. This will be accomplished using the same process as the current non-violent second-striker parole process ordered by a federal Three Judge Panel.

The Office of Administrative Law will be reviewing the Department’s proposed regulation for consideration for emergency adoption. If approved, CDCR will then publish a public notice containing the regulation text and other documents with an invitation for public comment. This is expected sometime in April. 

For more information about Prop. 57 or CDCR, please contact The Office of External Affairs: Albert Rivas, Chief, at (916) 224-8137 or Matthew Westbrook, AGPA, at (916) 445-4950.


Friday, March 17, 2017

2016 Our Promise Campaign Results

By Holly Stewart, Associate Governmental Program Analyst
CDCR’s Office of Public and Employee Communications

The 2016 Our Promise Campaign (previously the California State Employees Charitable Campaign (CSECC)) has finally concluded and the results are in. The 2016 campaign raised $6.1 million for nonprofit organizations throughout the state, country and world.  Over $569,000 of that monumental amount is because of over 3,600 CDCR donors contributing to meaningful foundations, as low as $5 each month from their paychecks.

(Editor’s note: The CDCR total likely will grow because all the donations from CDCR employees have not yet been tallied.)

The event honored the committed and hard-working department and agency Chairs, Vice Chairs, Key Connectors and other campaign volunteers, who worked to spread the word about the opportunity to give back, and the 32,000 state employees who contributed to Our Promise: California State Employees Giving at Work.


The successful 2016 Our Promise Campaign was headed by the CDCR Department Chair Alexandra Powell, Public Information Officer I, and her Executive Hand Holly Stewart, Associate Governmental Program Analyst with the Office of Public and Employee Communications (OPEC). This year, their leadership was shadowed by Corinne Isberner, Staff Counsel III (Specialist), with the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) as the Campaign Vice Chair.


Isberner is already gearing up full steam ahead for the 2017 Campaign, with the help of OLA’s enthusiastic Student Assistant Amber Campbell.  Looking ahead, Isberner said, “I am honored to get to serve as next year’s CDCR Campaign Chair. As a really large state department, CDCR has some unique opportunities to make a really big impact in charitable giving.  Amber and I are already in early campaign planning mode.” 


With early planning comes the need for volunteers and Executive support. 

“Without the backing of enthusiasm and drive from Executives and volunteers, the campaign wouldn’t be successful.  Especially with a Department of CDCR’s size, our Executive Team Members, Campaign Liaisons, Division Coordinators and Key Connectors are all instrumental to our operation and the reason for our achievement every year,” said Powell. Organizers say volunteering is “fun and rewarding, and builds leadership, teamwork and passion in our Department.”

If you would like to volunteer, know of anyone who could be influential in the 2017 Campaign or have any creative input to share, contact Corinne Isberner at
Corinne.Isberner@cdcr.ca.gov

What is Our Promise?
The Our Promise Campaign spans from September through the end of October each year.  During this two month window, each state agency and their departments run their campaign to ensure that each state employee is educated about the opportunity to donate through one-time donations and/or monthly payroll deduction. |The benefit of a monthly payroll deduction to your charity of choice provides the nonprofit with consistent cash flow throughout the year, enabling their ability to operate and provide services against a one-time donation. The benefits to the state employee include promoting teamwork in the workplace, enabling the employee to donate more than a one-time gift and last but not least, it’s tax deductible. 

For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at 916-445-4950 or cal_externalaffairs@cdcr.ca.gov