Transcript: Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez’s Q&A w/ CDCR administrators George Giurbino & Suzan Hubbard on CDCR’s proposed new policies on solitary confinement – Feb. 11, 2014

Partial transcript of Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez’s Q&A with CDCR Chief Deputy Administrators George Giurbino and Suzan Hubbard 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:

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore):
…I just have one question. I’m reading an article here from I think it’s the Sac Bee which was dated Jan. 31st specifically talking about how gang members would qualify for being taken off this particular status. And it does say that gang associates would have to steer clear of gang activities for about 10 years to qualify; gang leaders about 14 years. And I’m assuming that that is based on recommendations from CDCR is that correct?

George Giurbino, Chief Deputy Administrator of the Special Project Team at CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions:
Correct. Yes, ma’am.

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore):
And so, I’m just – a decade seems like a really long time, and so I’m –

George Giurbino, Chief Deputy Administrator of the Special Project Team at CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions:
Let me – let me kind of help because there’s two different things that we’re talking about here. One of those is individuals that can be released from security housing unit based upon their validation – it’s in a much quicker time frame. Those individuals would be within a security housing unit for three years…

[What] you’re talking about is something new that was just recently added to the policy and something in doing research on a national perspective, taking a look nationwide, most states and the federal bureau of prisons, and I could find a single one that had a provision for this.

And what this is when individuals are validated, they get a label that’s associated with that in places like central file. Validations throughout the country, that label stays with an individual from cradle to grave. They have that label of that gang their entire life.

What we elected to do in this process was to create our policy so we go full-cycle and give the individual the ability to have that label ultimately removed.

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore):
So what you’re saying is then it would take them a decade approximately to have that label removed?

George Giurbino, Chief Deputy Administrator of the Special Project Team at CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions:
It would take three years within a security housing unit and then upon their release, if they’re associates six years. Again, this is a provision that no other state that I can find has currently. They retain their label in other states. This is something new that assists an individual so that perhaps when they go to a board hearing that they can say that “No, that’s been completely redacted from my file, my history.”

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore):
Okay, so let me ask you this then: in other states that you’ve looked at, are you talking about inmates who have been removed from the SHU and put into the general population that they still maintain their gang status? Is that what you’re saying?

George Giurbino, Chief Deputy Administrator of the Special Project Team at CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions:
Correct. That validation is retained with an individual…

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore):
Despite whether or not they’re in the SHU?

George Giurbino, Chief Deputy Administrator of the Special Project Team at CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions:
…in the SHU or not.

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore):
Okay, so it remains with them. And you’re suggesting that that title be removed after a period of time?

George Giurbino, Chief Deputy Administrator of the Special Project Team at CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions:
Correct. And again, taking a look nationwide, could not find another policy that provided that provision. But in working with these inmates in conducting these case-by-case reviews, that was information that was shared with us that the inmates were interested in doing was having some method at some point in their life where they can have that redacted.

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore):
…Can you just explain to me in a very basic way the value in what you’re suggesting? Because you’ve had inmates in other states who have been released into the general populations but still maintain gang status title, and you’re suggesting that that is removed. I’m just – where’s the value? If you’re in the general population, isn’t that the ultimate goal aside from being released from prison?

George Giurbino, Chief Deputy Administrator of the Special Project Team at CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions:
The stigma of an individual having that gang title will affect them. People make perceptions and have prejudices upon individuals. Could potentially impact the hearing the individual may be involved in as well and being able to remove that. There are some assignment in housing occurrences where an individual based upon that validation that may have occurred 20 years ago but because of that validation existing may impact the job assignment that that individual may have.

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