Transcript: Special Project Deputy Administrator Suzan Hubbard’s testimony on CDCR’s proposed new policies on solitary confinement – Feb. 11, 2014

Partial transcript of the testimony of Suzan Hubbard, Chief Deputy Administrator of the Special Project Team CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions, 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:

Thank you. Good morning. I, too, have been part of the department for more than 33 years.

I graduated from the University of California Berkeley in social welfare and criminology and did field work with the department, and joining the department as a correctional officer at San Quentin – worked for the next 30 years through various correctional officer counseling series and served as a warden – or acting warden – at several different prisons, part of activating our state’s first mental health program within a Level 4 prison, and have been responsible at two prisons for our female offenders.

I eventually became director and also retired in 2009 as the Director of Adult Institutions.

After my retirement, continued to work in prisons, mentoring and guiding wardens, and then joined the Special Project Team in 2011 being part of developing the regulations – new regulations – for our department, and also being part of conducting the reviews of the offenders that have been within our security housing unit.

Thank you.

We’ve covered some of the key points through your questions and observations and mentioned something very important as to how we began the reviews of those associates and now members.

Our validation process has been changed dramatically. Previous in the validation process, there was a interview with the local investigative staff between the inmate and the investigative staff and a review of the validation and approval or disapproval of the investigation by our office of correctional safety.

Now, major change is that the investigative staff at the local level conduct that interaction still. Our Office of Correctional Safety in headquarters reviews that but the inmate before his validation is finalized goes to a security threat group unit classification committee. So instead of one person or entity reviewing and approving the validation, it is a committee process. The inmate will be assigned an investigative employee that serves to assist him in gathering evidence that may be needed to support or not support the validation. So that alone is a very different part of our new policy.

George has already mentioned the issue about whether an inmate would be housed in segregation or not. For associates, it would only be if they have additional gang-related behavior.

We have added for members another level of review that would be done at the warden’s level committee. If a member had been validated, instead of just moving directly to the step-down program another review would be done by the warden’s committee and potentially the departmental review board.

We’ve talked a bit about the step-down program being a program that can be done within for those inmates that have been retained in segregation or would later be placed in segregation – instead of a six-year review for inmates previously, they can participate and take part in that step-down program a minimum of three years based upon their taking part in the program.

So those are some of the highlights as we continue in the new policy and the reviews that we have done.

We have also increased the privileges for those inmates that are taking part in the step-down program. And George mentioned many stakeholders that we talked to both internal and external but we also met with inmates, both inmates that have been validated for a number of years that were within our secure housing units and those inmates that have been released and privileges and their conditions that they live in and property that they have access to is extremely important. So, we have increased the amount of canteen and packages and phone calls and personal photographs.

So, those are major changes within our secure housing unit.

We’ve also created a disciplinary matrix. The inmates asked that they be held individually accountable for any of their behavior, not just confidential information used or some other low-level documents. So we have built a process for a disciplinary to be issued if there is gang-related behavior. And already existing with our disciplinary system is a great deal of due process both for a staff assistant and investigative employee on behalf of an inmate. Those are major changes that go along with our new policy.

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