Thursday, November 7, 1996

CDC INVESTIGATORS DIRECTED TO CORCORAN

A team of California Department of Corrections (CDC) trained investigators arrived this week at California State Prison, Corcoran to begin CDC’s probe of allegations of staff misconduct.

"I have instructed the team to provide me facts on the allegations within 60 days," said Corrections Director James H. Gomez. "The California Department of Corrections has the greatest interest in learning the facts. If there are staff guilty of the allegations, I want them fired and prosecuted."

A team of 14 investigators and an attorney started a personnel investigation that has been delayed for two years at the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

As the statute of limitations approaches for CDC to take any disciplinary action, agreement was received from the FBI for CDC to initiate its own investigation of allegations that staff staged fights among inmates and that some staff attempted to impede the FBI probe.

CDC investigators are working with the FBI to schedule interviews with two agents to determine whether an alleged high speed chase two years ago involving CDC staff and the FBI did or did not take place.

"I also am asking the FBI to share any information it has that will assist our investigation, this includes copies of any reports prepared by FBI agents pertaining to the allegations," said Gomez. "We also are asking the FBI to provide copies of documents taken from Corcoran two years ago by Correctional Officer Richard Caruso."

CDC has cooperated fully with FBI requests since its investigation began in October 1994. CDC has provided the FBI with compete access to documents, personnel, and prison facilities. CDC also delayed its own investigation to accommodate the FBI.

"I want the facts," said Gomez. "We’ve cooperated fully with the FBI for two years in their inquiry and now we need their assistance in our investigation."

Friday, November 1, 1996

CORRECTIONS REFILES MEDIA ACCESS REGULATIONS

The California Department of Corrections (CDC) has refiled its media access regulations with the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) on the basis of "operational necessity." This allows the regulations to remain in effect for 160 days while the department responds to comments regarding the new media policy.

Contrary to earlier reports in the news media, the regulations have not been refiled as "emergency" regulations.

The regulations eliminate in-person media interviews with specific inmates and eliminate the confidential status of inmate-media correspondence. They have been in effect since their adoption April 8, 1996. They do not affect the media's ability to speak by telephone with inmates or correspond with them.

As required by state law, the department submitted the regulations to OAL for approval earlier this year. On Oct. 28, 1996, OAL notified CDC that it intended to disapprove the regulations based on concerns over the department's response to several comments posed by the Prison Law Office and Senator Quentin Kopp.

The department now has 160 days to draft and submit its response to OAL. Under legal procedures, CDC must either modify its proposal to address the concerns of the commenters or give adequate reasons why it did not do so.