Transcript: Sen. Joel Anderson’s Q&A with CDCR Directors Michael Stainer & Kelly Harrington at the joint legislative hearing on solitary confinement in California – Oct. 9, 2013

Partial transcript of Sen. Joel Anderson’s (R-San Diego) Q&A with Michael Stainer, Director of CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions, Kelly Harrington, Deputy Director of CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions, and Inspector General Robert A. Barton at the joint legislative hearing on “Segregation Policies in California Prisons: Current Conditions and Implications on Prison Management and Human Rights” on Oct. 9, 2013:

Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego):
I’ve heard about some of the offenses that would qualify you – qualify an inmate to be put in the SHU. But perhaps you can just quickly give me an idea of what some of the other offenses would be to qualify somebody for the SHU?

Michael Stainer, Director of CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions:
Typically, possessions of weapons, battery on staff, battery on inmates, other violent offenses, narcotics trafficking, attempted murder, murder.

Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego):
Okay. And then you were asked earlier the longest length of – perhaps you know what the average length of time in the SHU is.

Kelly Harrington, Deputy Director of CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions:
I believe it is 3.93 years.

Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego):
And then – so an inmate gets moved to the SHU, is there a set time you say you’re going to be in SHU for 5 years, 3 years, 2 years. How does that work? Do they just get put in the SHU indefinitely or do they have a timeframe in which they know they’re going to be released?

Kelly Harrington, Deputy Director of CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions:
So the inmates that commit crime within prison that are placed in the SHU, they’re given a determinate sentence – kind of a determinate sentence in SHU. So they’ll know how long they’re going to be in the SHU. Ranges anywhere from 3 months up to 5 years if they commit a murder in the prison.

The gang members and some constant issues that inmates that can’t program for whatever the reason, they’re give like an indeterminate SHU term and they’re reviewed at different times during their SHU term to see if they can be released back out as long as they’re not involved in gang activity.

Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego):
…Since they know they’re sentenced to determinate time, are there any incentives – is there any way they can reduce that time?

Kelly Harrington, Deputy Director of CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions:
Actually, when they’re first placed in the SHU under the determinate time piece, a third of that is already knocked off when they go in.

So for instance if they’re in for a year or if their SHU term is a year, they’ll only do a 9 month SHU term. Now, the incentive is to come out in 9 months but if they violate or have more disciplinary actions while they’re in the SHU or the security housing unit, they could lose that time and they can spend up to the year.

Michael Stainer, Director of CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions:
I can also state that Mr. Harrington and myself both being former wardens and classification personnel within SHU facilities, we see inmates on a regular basis during classification and we have suspended SHU terms just based on the inmate’s behavior.

Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego):
…Are the conditions inside the SHU monitored by any entity outside of CDCR? Is there an outside entity that monitors the conditions?

Kelly Harrington, Deputy Director of CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions:
Mr. Barton and his office monitor the conditions. And then also we’re going through an accreditation process with the American Correctional Association, who has come out to several of our institutions and accredited the institutions. And most recently, they have came out to Pelican Bay State Prison and they have been accredited. So they are monitored, and that’s an ongoing process that they do audits on those units.

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