Transcript: Response by Undersecretary of Operations Martin Hoshino to testimonies on CDCR’s proposed new policies on solitary confinement – Feb. 11, 2014

Partial transcript of the response by Martin Hoshino, CDCR’s Undersecretary of Operations, to testimonies 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:

Good morning, members. I’m Martin Hoshino, the undersecretary for operations from CDCR. I’m joined by Director Mike Stainer, also from the operations division of CDCR.

Do appreciate the opportunity to come here and be enlighted as well as to provide some observations of what we’ve seen and heard this morning, and certainly take some of your questions. I know it’s unusual for us to have this venue to be able to do that so I’ve written down some notes.

I want to also begin by thanking the committee, the members for their focus and attention in this area as well as the CDCR staff that have been so diligently implementing the early parts of this particular reform and they continue to do so as well as the big turnout…in public comment.

Obviously, we are not prepared nor can we respond to every detail that has been provided to including Mr. Carbone’s “baker’s dozen” but we do have some observations to share more globally on how is it we will respond, and perhaps some of our response to today will be measured by our subsequent activities, actions, and events over the course of time here.

But I will start, at least, by thanking Mr. Carbone. It’s the first time I’ve heard two “salvageable” comments from him. He has been a welcomed colleague as well as adversary during my tenure and course there, and I always appreciate his opinions and his objectivity.

I think I’ll begin by making a bit of an observation that, of course, what we’re talking about here is something that has been 30 or 40 years in the making. The SHUs themselves as well as the overcrowded conditions of the prison system did not occur overnight.

So, efforts and change to rectify or make alterations, I don’t think, will occur overnight. They will take some measurable pace and time and more about that in a minute.

I do want to focus on what I believe have been the areas of agreement that had been occurring here this morning and over the course of time.

I believe some of the principles and comments from Mr. Haney as well as Ms. Metcalf as well as other participants here have already been woven into some of the things that we’re attempting to do.

I also believe that some of the earlier hearings and attentions and questions both in a public setting and in private settings have also shaped the course of what we are doing, and I think that it has had a measurable impact not only on what we’re doing at the department at large but also on this particular issue with respect to segregated housing units and the like.

I would harken back to the genesis of this kind of reform, which actually began in 2011 in a chapter of what we had called the “Blueprint”, which was passed by this legislative body as proposed by the administration in 2011.

And that begin actually the work after the department had had some conclusions and reached some conclusions or some findings that perhaps there was an over-reliance on SHU.

And we really needed to get the department position for what it would do and what it would look like after realignment and, more importantly, after the high tide of overcrowding began to recede.

You members will recall that we had a population of 172,000 inmates, now residing at…117,000 inmates. The work began with some oversight from this legislature of “What will you do now in your prison system?”

And the security threat group/gang management policies – the genesis actually began there and that work continues.

In terms of the agreement of principles today and also the principles that were in that document and in that change remain alive today. And with respect – and I would encourage that we continue to organize around these principles as we go forward.

The first one related to SHU, as I think we all agree, that it was far too easy to get in and too hard to get out and that the stays in this environment were certainly too long. I think we all agree that SHUs – to the extent that they are used – should always be the exception and not the rule.

I think that we all agree now that the state of overcrowding in the prison system makes everything harder, including managing gangs and including managing this area.

I think we all agree now that gang management can’t just be suppression by itself, that it also has to include elements of rehabilitation but, more importantly, prevention, which is a very important theme that I think started to emerge breaking late in this particular hearing.

And I think that we all agree that the policies have to be behavior-based, that they can’t simply be strictly based on affiliation.

And there are other areas of agreement but I focus on those five as ones that I think we must continue to organize whatever change, reform we take in this particular reform, and the director and myself look forward to working with everybody on a lot of those elements, in particularly with the programs and the prevention components of this.

I get that there is disagreement over how far and how fast and what the dimension of these changes should be. But I don’t see that there’s disagreement over at least the direction, and the results today suggests this. And I do appreciate and respect that we will debate those very questions about how far, how fast, and how much more is needed.

For our part in the Department of Corrections, pace of change is very important to us and very, very key. We are obviously on the more cautious side of the equation given the fact that there are enormous changes going on in our system, and I won’t catalogue all of them.

But there’s a long, long list of changes that are occurring largely owing to the fact that we have a less crowded system and we are making investments and reinvestments in changing in programs and changing missions and trying to bring up re-entry hubs and the like and housing units and functions and roles and responsibilities are changing throughout this particular system.

But I would like at least everybody to [be] encouraged by a couple of facts as we stride to increase the successes of our programs, which is that 97% of the folks that have been reviewed today under this policy are in fact either out of the SHU or making their way out of the SHU.

Again, we can debate, discuss, and argue over the words and the early formation of the reforms and policies that we’re embarking upon, but that simple fact, I think, speaks for itself. It is not something that we are planning to do or talking about doing; it is something that has actually happened and it is happening as we sit here and as we speak.

In addition to which I think last year at this hearing and others had highlighted the longest serving SHU person in our system. That person is now out of the SHU and in the step-down program and shortly visiting family members is my understanding.

So I think there are things to point to that certainly that suggests that we’re heading in the right direction, and we welcome the coming discussion about, again, the pace, the dimension elements in there.

And that concludes, at least, comments on my behalf. Director Stainer and I will of course stay here for any questions you have but more importantly knowing that you have a clock to manage, we do want to hear the public’s comments.


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