Transcript: Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s Q&A with Attorneys Charles Carbone & Anne Weills on CDCR’s proposed new policies on solitary confinement – Feb. 11, 2014

Partial transcript of Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s Q&A with Attorneys Charles Carbone and Anne Weills on CDCR’s proposed new policies on solitary confinement and prison gang or “security threat group” management. The joint informational hearing was held on Feb. 11, 2014:

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano:
…For both of you, it’s just kind of a softball question but – devil advocate kind of question. I think that within this attempt from the CDCR, there might be some good direction occasionally. And if there’s anything that’s you think that is – and we could amplify with them – maybe you could tell us now.

I’ll tell you full disclosure – I do think that some of the things – a lot of it is lip service. There may be a trajectory or two that we would – might embrace. But I still think the regulations missed the point of the context of what we’re talking about, which is the whole existence of the SHU in the first place. Regulations then presume that entity, and what if that entity isn’t there, particularly in the form that it is now. So, it’s kind of counter-intuitive to me to come up with regulations based on something in and of itself that is highly questionable.

Anne Weills, Civil Rights Attorney:
I would agree. I mean, it’s so highly flawed – the whole system of how people are validated and how they come to be in the SHU forever, and obviously the evidences that a number of them – 60% how many percent – should have never been in there in the first place.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano:

Anne Weills, Civil Rights Attorney:
I do think there is – I, you know, having litigated against the University of California, these bureaucracies are very hard to change. You know, these are big systems. There is a lot about jobs, you know. I think that’s been a huge thing with CDCR over the years. It’s build more prisons, you know, create more jobs, and I think that’s still a problem.

What Charles said – some of these new regs that now CDCR has jurisdiction beyond, you know, CDCR. They can go into any community, like Oakland, where I’m from and say, “X64th Avenue gang, over three people do X, Y, Z, sell dope over the corner. They can be brought into the SHUs of California.”

You’re talking about 1,500 new organizations. So I mean, what is this but a huge jobs effort?

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano:
Thank you. And Mr. Carbone, any – ?

Charles Carbone, Prisoner Rights Attorney:
Yeah, I would just say – I don’t often compliment the department. But I will say there are probably two elements that are salvageable here.

One is the two-step process between the label of the validation and then whether or not the second step of to send them to the security housing unit. That I think is a good point. I mean, it should apply to both members and associate.

And the second issue is just the step-down model as a whole. It’s helpful for the transitioning back into the community. It’s helpful for transitioning back into general population. So I think a step-down program or model is the appropriate model. It’s just how it’s formulated and fashioned right now has serious problems.


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