Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Statement from Warden Steven Ornoski pertaining to the Feb. 21 stay of execution of condemned inmate Michael Morales on February 21, 2006, at San Quentin State Prison

"Because we are unable to comply with Judge Fogel's order, tonight's scheduled execution of Michael Morales will not proceed.

The order issued by the court this afternoon specifically required that the lethal injection be completed by someone licensed by the State of California to inject medications intravenously.

After lengthy discussions, the decision has been made that the state cannot proceed with the execution under the conditions set by the district court.

As a result, we expect an evidentiary hearing to be scheduled for May 2 and 3 on the constitutionality of the state's lethal injection process."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Corrections Official Speaks Out on Importance of Governor's Strategic Growth Plan

Called “Critical to Safety, Welfare of Citizens, Staff, Inmates”

Sacramento - Calling the Governor's Strategic Growth Plan "critical to the safety and welfare of California's citizens, our staff and the inmates who are sentenced and receive services" from prisons and jails, Jeanne Woodford, Undersecretary for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), spoke yesterday at an informational hearing held by the Senate Committee on Public Safety.

Woodford testified that public policy makers, such as legislators, law enforcement and other key constituencies, must plan adequately for the future by taking the necessary steps to expand the capacity of California prisons and jails.

"As has been expressed many times during the last several decades, the public demands that our cities and communities be kept safe by removing violent criminals from our streets," Woodford said. "It is one of our responsibilities to ensure that California has the necessary capacity to house those offenders who create an unsafe environment."

With California's prison population at an all-time high and growing, the 33 existing institutions are running out of space. Woodford estimated that the prison population will be close to 200,000 by 2020, but cautioned that the projections are very conservative, reflecting an annual growth rate of 1.2 percent over 14 years. The prison population, however, increased 2.4 percent in 2005.

"It is not enough to just build capacity, but we must be smart about how we plan," Woodford stressed. She emphasized that the Governor's plan will provide partnerships between counties and the State. County jails built under the plan would provide additional capacity dedicated to housing state prison inmates. These partnerships will address the more than 5,000 inmates who typically spend fewer than 90 days in prison as well as about 62,000 parole violators or parolees pending revocation.

The Governor's plan proposes that inmates be returned to county jail for the last 90 days of their sentence. While there, they would be provided with re-entry planning and services prior to release.

"The most critical time for inmates leaving prison is from the time of release through the first six months," Woodford said. By focusing efforts at this critical time, it would increase the likelihood that parolees will not re-offend and will prevent additional victimization of citizens.

Woodford stressed that the Governor's plan provides an essential public policy model for California by providing a more cost-effective model for housing inmates in the short-term, by providing greater collaboration between county and state law enforcement agencies, and by providing the framework for an effective re-entry model. In addition to providing the county-state partnership, the increased jail and prison capacity would free more prison space and allow the expansion of rehabilitation programs.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Parole Officials Ensure Proper Implementation Of New Law to House Sex Offenders

Sacramento - The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Division of Adult Parole Operations in an effort to ensure public safety and compliance with a new state law has completed a review of the placement of High Risk Sex Offenders in its four parole regions throughout the state and will continue to aggressively monitor the placement of these offenders to ensure proper placement in California communities.

"When it comes to the safety and security of people of California we can not compromise or take shortcuts with the law and we must remain vigilant," said Roderick Q. Hickman, secretary of CDCR. "The people of this state expect that we will supervise the parolees released from our prisons especially those who have a history of sexual offenses against children."

The Department and its parole regions will work with local law enforcement and communities to ensure compliance with the provisions of this new law that went into effect on January 1, 2006. AB 113 prohibits the placement of any parolee convicted of child molestation (Penal Code Sec. 288 and 288.5) and designated by the department as a High Risk Sex Offender, within a half a mile of any school grade K-12.

The Secretary ordered the four parole regions in the state to review the placement of the more than 2,000 High Risk Sex Offenders to ensure that they are properly placed in accordance with AB 113.

"The identification and utilization of permanent and appropriate placement options will continue to be a top priority for us," said Hickman. "Public safety is the primary concern. No parolee should ever be placed back into the community without public safety being the first priority."

The department is continually working in partnership with local law enforcement and community agencies to find appropriate housing placements for high-risk sex offenders who by law are released from prison and returned to the county of commitment or the county of last legal residence.

Statement by Corrections Secretary Roderick Q. Hickman on the Appointment of Robert Sillen as Receiver of the California Prison Medical System

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Secretary Roderick Q. Hickman today made the following statement regarding Judge Thelton Henderson's appointment of Robert Sillen as receiver for the California prison medical system:

"I look forward to working with Mr. Sillen, and I know all of our staff, including Dr. Peter Farber-Szekrenyi, are committed to working with the court to resolve this issue to ensure we meet the constitutional standards set by the court. This administration has already begun the long and complicated process of reforming the prison health care system and this appointment will help give further guidance to the process.

"This Department has repeatedly said it will work with the court to solve this complex case and our commitment has never wavered. We have a dedicated staff of professionals in the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation who I know will work diligently with Mr. Sillen and Dr. Farber-Szekrenyi to build a system of health care that will provide the quality of care the people of this state expect us to provide."