Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Folsom Inmates to Graduate from Carpenter Pre-Apprenticeship Program

Training Links Paroling Inmates to Union Jobs

(FOLSOM, CA) California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), the Prison Industry Authority (PIA), and the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council today announced the graduation of 24 inmates from the newly established carpentry pre-apprenticeship program that trains inmates in construction skills.

"The implementation of this unique prison pre-apprenticeship carpentry training demonstrates Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's commitment to provide new inmate rehabilitation programs. Enhancing employment skills through this training is an important step for inmates to successfully transition back into society," said CDCR Secretary James Tilton. "Inmates can learn various carpentry skill sets that help prepare them for good-paying jobs upon parole. This is an opportunity for inmates to turn their lives around."

After completion of the training, the first of its type in the nation, paroling inmates will be eligible for placement in a full-scale apprenticeship program, offered through the Carpenters Training Committee for Northern California, which leads to jobs with construction companies that employ organized labor. PIA will pay the initial union dues and provide a full complement of tools to inmates who complete the program and enter Carpenters Local 46.

As part of the new training program called "Career Technical Education-Carpentry", inmates are working in two different areas. The new Modular Building Enterprise, housed in a 30,000 square foot facility, provides rehabilitative work assignments for inmates in building modular structures that will be subsequently transported for use at various prisons and juvenile centers throughout the State. Additionally, inmates are refurbishing and converting the previously vacant Green Valley Fire Camp 12 into a CDCR/PIA Training and Engineering Center. Inmates gain proficiencies in various skill sets including concrete pouring, framing, drywall, taping and texturing, painting, roofing, and finished carpentry skills.

PIA is the State organization that provides productive job assignments for inmates in California's adult correctional institutions. PIA's products and services are available to governmental entities, including federal, state, and local agencies. PIA operates factories that produce a variety of goods and services including: modular buildings, office furniture, eye glasses, license plates, coffee, shoes, printing services, signs, binders, clothing, and much more.

PIA has established the Inmate Employability Program, which provides training, certification, and job placement assistance, to improve the employability of inmates upon parole. While PIA work assignments help train inmates to prepare for employment, the program also reduces idleness and decreases violence in the institutions. Court-ordered restitution/fines are deducted from the wages earned by PIA inmates and are transferred to the Crime Victims' Restitution Fund. In fiscal year 2005-2006 over $.7 million of PIA inmates' earnings was deposited into this fund.

Friday, February 2, 2007

CDCR to Move Inmates Involuntarily to Ease Overcrowding

Phase Two of Inmate Transfer Plan In Keeping with Governor’s Executive Order

Sacramento - With California’s inmate population at crisis levels, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) today announced that it would begin involuntary transfers of inmates to prisons in other states in an expanded effort to temporarily ease severe prison overcrowding.

The effort marks the second phase of an inmate transfer program that began in November, 2006 with the transfer of volunteer inmates. CDCR was extremely active educating inmates about the transfers and conditions at the out-of-state facilities.

"We will continue to seek volunteer inmates who are willing to serve their sentences in other states," said CDCR Secretary James E. Tilton. "But we also will begin to move inmates involuntarily so that they are no longer sleeping in gymnasiums, dayrooms and other inappropriate areas of the prisons and to delay the possibility of running out of beds for new inmates, which would create a public safety problem in our communities."

The involuntary transfers are intended to create space for new inmates in California prisons, which are jammed with a historically high number of inmates. Without the transfers, new inmates would be housed in local jails, forcing local law enforcement to increase the number of lower level offenders they must release prematurely.

"We are severely overcrowded and the need for more space is absolutely critical," said Tilton. "These transfers allow us to improve the safety of inmates and correctional officers while avoiding the potential of being unable to accept new inmates. This decision is being made to protect public safety."

California's prison population stands at 174,000 inmates, the highest in its history. Approximately 16,000 inmates are currently in triple bunks in gymnasiums and day rooms, common areas that were not intended for housing.

Inmates identified for involuntary transfers will meet criteria established in Governor Schwarzenegger’s emergency proclamation on overcrowding adopted on Oct. 4, 2006. Under that order, the first priority for involuntary transfers is inmates who face the prospect of deportation by the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency after their release from prison.

Prior to moving inmates with special needs, involuntary transfers will be coordinated with the federal court-appointed Receiver for health care and the plaintiffs and court-appointed Special Master in a class action lawsuit (Coleman v Schwarzenegger) regarding mental health..

The involuntary transfers are expected to begin in approximately 60 to 90 days. Potentially, up to 5,000 inmates could be moved involuntarily to privately operated correctional facilities in Mississippi, Arizona and Oklahoma, depending on CDCR's need for available beds.

CDCR currently maintains contracts with The GEO Group Inc. of Florida and the Correctional Corporation of America (CCA), headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.

Contracts with both companies are for three years beginning November 2006, with mutual options for two-year extensions. Each inmate transferred will be housed in a secure, private correctional facility with other inmates from California.

Although both The GEO Group Inc. and CCA operate private institutions, they are required by contract to operate them consistent with all CDCR procedures and California law.

In November, 80 inmates voluntarily transferred to the West Tennessee Detention Facility operated by CCA. Since then, approximately 300 additional volunteers have moved to the Florence Detention Center in Arizona.

Secretary Tilton emphasized that the transfers are a temporary solution to avoid an immediate crisis, while the Legislature considers reforms proposed by Governor Schwarzenegger for long term solutions to prison overcrowding.

Those proposals, introduced in December, offer a comprehensive approach to solving the prison overcrowding crisis. It includes $4.4 billion in bonds to help local governments expand jail capacity to house low level offenders, as well as the construction of community-based custody facilities that would be uniquely equipped to provide rehabilitation programs to help inmates return successfully to their communities.

For more information on CDCR and the inmate overcrowding crisis, visit the CDCR web site at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov./