Tuesday, April 30, 1996

GOMEZ RESPONDS TO LAO REPORT ON PRISON INDUSTRIES

Corrections Director James H. Gomez today said he was intrigued with the Legislative Analyst's recommendations concerning the state's Prison Industry Authority (PIA).

"From our initial review, it appears that the Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) offers a well-considered vision for the future of prison industries in California," said Gomez, who also is chairman of the 11-member Prison Industry Board (PIB) that oversees PIA.

"The Legislative Analyst acknowledges the improvements PIA has made and offers clear, manageable objectives to carry it into the next century," Gomez said.

The LAO concept for reform is based on Florida's PRIDE model. In that state, prison industries are operated by a private, nonprofit corporation. If the LAO's recommendations are pursued in California, PIA's mission would be twofold: financial self-sufficiency and reduced inmate recidivism.

"While I have not had the opportunity to review the report in detail," said Gomez, "the strategies outlined are very appealing."

"I commend the LAO for their insightful look into the unique, public/private realm of PIA," Gomez continued, "and I look forward to fully exploring the options they present."

Friday, April 26, 1996

CORRECTIONAL OFFICER ARRESTED FOR INMATE ASSAULT

Pelican Bay State Prison Correctional Officer Tab Kimberly Bridges was arrested last night by the Del Norte County Sheriff and charged in the assault of prison inmate Scanvinski Hymes.

Pelican Bay State Prison staff reported the assault to the Del Norte District Attorney and the Sheriff. An internal investigation is underway along with the criminal investigation of the apparently unprovoked attack on inmate Hymes.

Prison staff report that Hymes had been restrained on a gurney yesterday morning after he tried to kick officers on the transportation detail. At the time, Hymes was being processed for transportation to a court appearance in Crescent City.

Hymes earlier had been charged by the District Attorney with assaulting staff at the prison. He had been placed in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) as a result of numerous assaults on staff.

Staff reported that Officer Bridges, who was not a part of the transportation team, approached the inmate on the gurney and began striking him on the back, shoulder, and head with his baton. The inmate was examined, treated for bruises, and returned to his cell.

Inmate Hymes is a 26 year old parole violator with two prior convictions. He first came to state prison in 1988 for possession of a deadly weapon at a California Youth Authority facility. His second term was in 1994 for a felon in possession of a weapon. He has been in and out of prison on parole revocations, most recently for assault and battery and pandering.

Officer Bridges was placed on administrative time off pending the outcome of the internal investigation. He joined the department in December 1982. He transferred to Pelican Bay State Prison in November 1989.

Wednesday, April 24, 1996

CORRECTIONS COLLECTS OVER $1.7 MILLION FOR VICTIMS

The California Department of Corrections will turn over $1,733,728.32 to the State Board of Control for its Crime Victim Compensation Fund this Friday. The money will be used to cover medical costs, mental health treatment, and emergency expenses of California crime victims.

"This represents just four months of collections from state prison inmate wages and trust account deposits," said CDC Director James H. Gomez. "At this rate, we will be able to generate more than $5.5 million for crime victims in 1996 alone."

"It is especially fitting as we commemorate Victims' Rights Week," said Gomez.

The presentation will be held at noon, April 26, during Corrections' Victims' Rights Fair in the atrium of CDC's headquarters building, 1515 S Street. Director Gomez will present the $1.7 million check to Frank Zolin, Executive Officer, State Board of Control. The fair will include displays from 15 organizations serving California's crime victims.

Collections skyrocketed in December 1995 after a new law allowed the department to collect a portion of all trust account deposits for inmates with court-ordered restitution fines. Before then, Corrections could collect from these inmates' wages only.

"Now we need to encourage district attorneys, chief probation officers, and judges to require restitution for all convicted felons," said Gomez.

Currently only about half of the inmates in state prisons have been ordered to pay restitution. "We want to make that 100 percent," said Gomez.

"In my judgment, every single inmate should be required to pay restitution," Gomez continued. "We have the laws, the means, and the will to make it happen."

Tuesday, April 9, 1996

GOMEZ RESPONDS TO PIA AUDIT

Corrections Director James H. Gomez today took issue with findings of a Prison Industry Authority (PIA) audit by the Bureau of State Audits (BSA).

"While the audit offered some helpful recommendations to improve PIA's fiscal management, it uses the wrong yardstick to measure PIA's mission and accomplishments," said Gomez, who is also chairman of the 11-member Prison Industry Board (PIB) that oversees PIA.

"PIA is a unique blend of public and private interests. The true measure of its success is against similar prison industry programs across the nation. In this arena, PIA compares very favorably."

"Instead, the State Auditor made up its own rules to define self sufficiency-- attributing to PIA interest cost it does not incur," said Gomez. "Unfortunately, these rules aren't based on legislative intent, on practices of comparable prison programs, or on generally accepted accounting principles."

"The Bureau of State Audits succumbs to the very inconsistency it attributes to PIA," said Gomez. "First it declares that PIA is a state program; then it compares PIA's performance against private industry standards."

"PIA is doing an excellent job of fulfilling its primary mission--productively employing state prison inmates in a self-sufficient program," Gomez continued. "PIA's inmate employment has grown 117 percent in the last ten years. Furthermore, it has made significant strides in resolving some of the deficiencies pointed out in the audit."

Gomez pointed to numerous PIA accomplishments and innovations:

Increased efficiency. The number of PIA free staff has declined while profits and sales have increased steadily.

Debt reduction. Long-term debt dropped from $13 million to $3.6 million in the last five years.

Automation. Successfully implemented a sophisticated information and accounting system, as noted in the audit.

Improved quality. Using Total Quality Management business process, concentrated on setting quality goals and meeting product standards.

Customer satisfaction. Now guarantees delivery of the most popular furniture items anywhere in the state within 20 days--an accomplishment documented in the audit.

Innovative programs. PIA's highly successful recycling/waste management program has reduced the City of Folsom's waste stream by 55 percent.

Innovative products. Obtained four patents for its Century 2000 modular office system.

Gomez also criticized the audit's findings relating to the Prison Industry Board, charging that it "levels sweeping criticism at PIB" without interviewing the Chairman or interested parties, reviewing pertinent documents, or even attending a PIB meeting.

"Despite the audit's major flaws," said Gomez, "many of its specific recommendations are in line with PIA goals for improvement. I will be working with PIA and the Prison Industry Board to ensure that the progress made to date continues into the next century."

Tuesday, April 2, 1996

MEDIA ACCESS FOR WILLIAMS EXECUTION

The execution of Keith Daniel Williams is scheduled for Friday, May 3, 1996 at San Quentin State Prison. Williams was convicted of murdering three people in Merced County in 1978. He was sentenced to death in April 1979 and has been on California's death row since then.

The California Department of Corrections Communications Office in Sacramento is making arrangements for all media credentials. Contact with San Quentin is not necessary.

This advisory covers media access to prison grounds. The deadline for submittals is Tuesday, April 23, 1996. Up to one hundred twenty-five (125) news media representatives will be admitted to the media center on prison grounds to attend news briefings and a news conference after the execution. Up to seventeen (17) news media representatives will witness the execution as a pool for all media.

Please, no phone calls about selections. You will be notified if there are any problems with your submittal. A list of approved names will be distributed to all media a few days before the scheduled execution.

MEDIA WITNESSES

The Radio Television News Director's Association of Northern California (RTNDA) and the Radio Television News Association in Southern California (RTNA) are responsible for the selection of broadcasters to witness the execution. There are positions for four (4) television and four (4) radio stations. The criteria includes provisions for a selection balance between northern and southern California, that the television stations selections include representation from ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC news networks, and that one radio and one television be from the county where the crime was committed. The RTNDA contact is Darryl Compton, 415-341-9978. The RTNA contact is Carolyn Fox, 818-986-8168.

The newspaper selection criteria specify a media witness position for the daily newspaper of record with the largest circulation in the county where the crime occurred (i.e. Merced) as well as the largest newspapers in the metropolitan areas of Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco Bay, and Sacramento. Those newspapers are the: Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, and Sacramento Bee. Two positions will be chosen at random from California daily newspapers of record with 100,000 circulation and above that have applied for credentials by April 23.

NON-WITNESS MEDIA ATTENDING PRESS CONFERENCE

To accommodate as many media firms as possible, each news media organization applying will be limited to one reporter. Firms selected to send a representative to witness the execution will be allowed a separate reporter for the media center.

In anticipation that interest will exceed space, pool arrangements will be necessary for video/audio feeds, and still photos. The pool will be limited to two television camera operators, two still photographers, and one audio engineer.

Broadcast microwave and satellite vans and their support personnel will be permitted in a parking lot adjacent to the IST building. Space is limited to about 30 vehicles. Priority will be given to those sending "live" reports serving LA and Bay area media and multiple stations statewide. Television vans will be allowed up to four (4) support personnel (engineer, producer, talent, and camera operator) in addition to the reporter for the media center. Radio broadcast vans will be allowed three (3) support personnel (engineer, producer, and talent) in addition to the media center reporter.

To be considered, send written notification signed by the news department manager on company letterhead with the names of the proposed representatives, their dates of birth, driver's license numbers, social security numbers and size of vehicle (for broadcast van access) to:

CDC Communications
1515 S Street, Room 113-S
P.O. Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001

Fax or telephone requests will not be accepted. All requests must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23. Given the time needed for security clearances and access permits for this number of people which have to be completed, requests received after April 23, including personnel substitutions, will be processed only if time permits and after the initial requests are completed. No assurances can be provided that the processing for late requests will be completed by May 3. Requests that include the names of more than the allotted number of representatives will be returned without processing.

The building being used for the media center has 60 amp electrical service with a limited number of outlets. There are seven (7) pay telephones. The media pool will be responsible for providing a generator for electrical power and for any special telephone provisions. Media orders for private telephone hookups must be arranged in advance with Pacific Telephone which will coordinate installation with San Quentin.