Wednesday, December 19, 2007

CDCR Investigation Finds that District Parole Administrator Inappropriately Altered Parolee Discharge Recommendations

Takes corrective action immediately
SACRAMENTO – An internal investigation by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has found that a district parole administrator inappropriately altered reports made by agents and unit supervisors to recommend the discharge of parolees from state supervision. This action was a violation of CDCR protocol and possibly state law.

“We launched an internal audit and took preliminary corrective action as soon as suspicion was raised over whether parole protocols were being followed. The audit identified a problem in one of the department’s 25 districts,” said Scott Kernan, Chief Deputy Secretary of Adult Operations for CDCR. “We are now taking steps to determine if this incident is isolated.”

CDCR reassigned the district parole administrator under review and removed his authority over unit discharge recommendations while CDCR’s Office of Internal Affairs conducts an investigation. The administrator oversaw a district covering six parole units in Northern California.

The preliminary audit revealed a number of instances where unit supervisors’ decision boxes on parole activity reports were altered with whiteout by the district parole administrator. In some cases a parolee’s agent and unit supervisor filed recommendations to “retain” the parolee, though the district parole administrator under review altered the activity report to change their recommendations to “discharge.”

While district administrators have the authority to make decisions to retain or discharge parolees, altering recommendations by subordinate staff is inconsistent with departmental protocols and may be a violation of state law.

“We take public safety extremely seriously, and expect our district administrators to use sound public safety judgment in thousands of parole decisions each month,” said Kernan. “We will continue this investigation to ensure that this does not happen again.”

Using district administrators to evaluate subordinate staff discharge recommendations is a critical element that helps ensure consistent decision making throughout the corrections and rehabilitation system. Review by supervisors is consistent with law enforcement practices throughout the nation. CDCR also has a review process in place to allow the four regional parole administrators to sample a percentage of cases from each the 25 district offices to ensure that consistent decisions are made.

All of the cases included in the audit were immediately reevaluated by parole administrators following the district parole administrator’s breach of protocol. In some instances parole administrators recommended different decisions, resulting in parolees being recommended to be retained on parole. Those cases were referred to the Board of Parole Hearings for retain consideration. In instances where offenders have been legally discharged from parole, modifications to previous decisions cannot be made.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

CDCR Investigates Former Contract Pharmacists for Nearly $1 Million in Fraud, Embezzlement and Drug Felonies

Internal Affairs Investigation Results in Criminal Charges Filed Today


FRESNO - A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) Office of Internal Affairs investigation has found evidence that two contract pharmacists at Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP) may have embezzled nearly one million dollars from the State of California, among other felonies. While the suspects had previously been arrested for lesser crimes, eighteen charges relating to grand theft, perjury, commercial burglary, corrupt performance of an official act, tax evasion and possession of a controlled substance were filed in Fresno County Superior Court today.

“Our internal affairs unit has worked diligently with local law enforcement and outside agencies to coordinate this intensive investigation into allegations of fraud, misuse of taxpayer dollars and possible felony violations of state law,” said CDCR Undersecretary Steve Kessler. “CDCR investigators have done a masterful job of working with staff at the prison, the district attorneys office, the Franchise Tax Board, and the Receiver’s office, to gather the evidence needed to prosecute this case. Our staff should be commended for their professionalism.”

The subjects of the investigation, Ronald Juliana and his wife Joyce Rutan-Juliana, were previously employed as the Pharmacist-in-Charge and Pharmacist respectively, at Pleasant Valley State Prison. An internal affairs investigation of records they submitted to the state shows numerous irregularities that suggest the couple billed the state for regular hours, on-call hours and overtime hours, totaling 24 hours a day, seven days a week, between 2004 and 2007.

CDCR’s internal affairs unit also looked into allegations that Joyce Juliana-Rutan worked concurrently at the prison as a contractor and as a state employee for the Department of Health Services/Department of Health Care Services from Sep. 2004 through Feb. 2007. If true, this could potentially be a felony violation of California Public Contract Code Section 10410.

A search of the suspect’s homes during the investigation resulted in the seizure of over 30,000 prescription drugs and other controlled substances. During a home search in Coalinga, four bags of medication were found with “PVSP Pharmacy” labels affixed to each bag. As a result of this seizure, on Nov. 8, 2007, the Juliana’s were arrested and booked into Fresno County Jail on a number of felony charges involving illegal possession of prescription drugs. The Juliana’s posted bail and were arraigned in Fresno County Superior court.

Monday, December 17, 2007

INMATE DEATH AT CORCORAN STATE PRISON UNDER INVESTIGATION

Corcoran - On December 16, 2007 at approximately 9 p.m., a 21-year-old San Bernardino County inmate was found deceased in his assigned cell at Corcoran State Prison (CSP-C).

The deceased inmate, Reuben Quesada Galasso, was received from San Bernardino County on March 16, 2006, and was serving a five-year sentence for assault with a firearm. He was pronounced dead at 9:17 p.m. The cause of death has not yet been determined.

The case is being investigated as a possible homicide by the Kings County District Attorney's Office. The CSP-C Investigative Services Unit is cooperating with the investigation and the Office of the Inspector General's Bureau of Independent Review has been notified.

The suspect in this case is a 27-year-old inmate received from San Luis Obispo County on May 28, 1999 with a life sentence for attempted first-degree murder.

CSP-C opened in 1988 and houses nearly 5,700 minimum-, medium-, maximum- and high-security custody inmates. The Kings County prison offers academic classes and vocational programs as well as community programs and work crews. The prison employs approximately 2,300 people.

For Immediate Release
December 17, 2007
Contact:
M. Theresa Cisneros
(559) 992-6104

Friday, December 14, 2007

CDCR Employee Named in Statewide Green Energy Award Efforts Reflects Lifetime Passion for Energy Efficiency

A longtime CDCR employee with a passion for energy conservation was recently honored when the unit he created to monitor the correctional agency’s use of energy was awarded the “Energy Innovations Award” at its innaugural Green California Leadership Awards.

Specifically, CDCR’s Energy Management Program won the Energy Innovation Category for developing a comprehensive energy conservation approach for California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s more than 41 million square feet of prisons and juvenile facilities.

The conservation efforts have included the replacement of high-pressure sodium lamps at facilities with more efficient fluorescent lamps, the installation of a solar farm, development of cogeneration facilities, the creation of partnerships with local and public utility providers, and the ongoing peak load reduction plan that ramps down energy consumption at institutions during peak energy consumption periods.. This effort has dramatically reduced energy demand across CDCR’s vast network of facilities and has saved the millions of dollars.

During the ceremony, Harry Franey, Chief of the Energy Management Section, and an 18-year CDCR employee who has been focused on energy conservation issues since his arrival at CDCR in 1989, was singled out for his near two decades of effort.

“While this department has sought to retool the organization to focus on bringing back more rehabilitative resources for the last couple of years, Mr. Franey has single-handedly focused on finding ways for this department to become more energy efficient, and has gathered the necessary sponsorship within our facilities management division to achieve those goals,” said Secretary James E. Tilton. “This passionate pursuit serves as an inspiration to me as I marshal this department's resources to incorporate rehabilitation.”

“Harry really knows his stuff, and is more than willing to make his case for an environmentally friendly way of tackling tasks that come his way,” said Deborah Hysen, Chief Deputy Secretary, Facilities, Planning and Construction. “His passion and interests in saving energy and being environmentally sensitive is a real benefit to the facilities management branch. I consider his advice and efforts as a real asset to this division, and this department. This award was well-deserved.”

Hysen said that Franey is an expert in his field, and is relied upon and respected by the Department for his expertise in energy related matters. Franey came to the Department in August 1989 as an Energy Resources Specialist I. In May 1991 he became an Energy Resources Specialist II and began to create a section of the department that would later become known as the Energy Management Section. Until that time, Franey was the only professional at CDCR who dealt with, or considered the impact of energy management. His present assignment is Departmental Construction and Maintenance Supervisor, as the Chief, Energy Management Section.

Upon receiving the award at the October 2007 ceremony Franey said the award motivates him to try harder.

“It provides a nice boost to want to do more and do better,” Franey said. “It encourages us to take stock of the program and even reflect a little bit. Just as every journey begins with a first step, energy efficiency and cleaner air begin with replacing a single light bulb.”

CDCR is counting on Harry and his staff to do more in the coming years in the area of green design. In August of this year, the CDCR joined the Climate Action Registry Team and it will be up to Harry to measure, report and improve CDCR’s carbon footprint through continued energy conservation efforts and reduced carbon emissions through cleaner operations. Hysen believes that Harry is the right man for the job.


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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Board Significantly Increases Preference for Jail Bond Funds to Reward Counties Siting Secure Community Reentry Facilities

Corrections Standards Authority Unanimously Approves Amendments to Double Reentry Facility Preference Points

SACRAMENTO – The Corrections Standards Authority (CSA) today agreed to significantly increase the preference in their formula for distributing jail bond funds to reward counties that site secure community reentry facilities. At a Board meeting in Sacramento, CSA members unanimously approved amendments to a preliminary request for proposal that will double the preference awarded to counties who site a reentry facility. Counties that assist the state in helping parolees get mental health services will also receive increased funding preference.

"Today's action by the Corrections Standards Authority is consistent with the goals of our historic, bipartisan prison reform bill. AB 900 makes secure reentry facilities and rehabilitation the cornerstone of turning around our troubled prison system, to reduce recidivism and overcrowding. These facilities will house inmates who are close to their release date and give them the critically-needed counseling, services, job training and housing placement to help parolees return to society as law-abiding citizens," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "Counties partnering with the state to host a reentry facility have earned the right to access jail bond funding."

The amended request for proposal increases the preference points for siting a secure community reentry facility from 150 to 300 points. It also increases the points for counties that provide mental health and aftercare services for parolees from 50 to 100 points. These factors, combined with evaluations of such factors as project need, average daily jail population, crime statistics, and others combine for a total of 1,325 points possible. The increase in the total points for siting a reentry facility and mental health and aftercare services will give counties who have taken those steps a significant advantage.

“The intent of the legislature and the Governor with the passage of comprehensive prison reform this year was to significantly reward those counties who site secure community reentry facilities with increased access to jail bond funds,” said James Tilton, Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), and CSA Board Chair.

“The Board’s actions will ensure that those counties who are working with the state to improve the process for transitioning their residents who are coming home by siting reentry facilities will be moved to the top of the list if they have a demonstrated need for jail beds as well. The Board’s unanimous agreement demonstrates a true partnership and cooperative spirit between counties big and small, local law enforcement, and the state. I commend the Board on conducting such an open process and on their willingness to consider input from all stakeholders. This type of coordination will be necessary at every step of the way to ensure that the new reentry model is successful.”

Assembly Bill 900, signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on May 3, 2007, authorizes a total of $750 million in bonds to relieve overcrowding in local jails in Phase I. Counties that site reentry facilities and assist parolees with mental health and aftercare services will receive funding preference. The preliminary request for proposal approved today will divide the Phase I jail bond funding between the counties as follows:

  • 14 large counties, with a population of more than 700,001 residents, and 13 medium counties, with a population between 200,001 and 700,000, will be eligible to compete for $650 million in funds. Large counties will have a $100 million maximum cap while medium counties have an $80 million maximum cap.
  • 31 small counties, with a population of less than 200,000 residents, will be eligible to compete for $100 million in funds. There will be a cap imposed of $30 million per project. There are 30 small counties with jails.
Phase II funding for local jails beds will provide an additional $450 million in funding, after Phase I benchmarks are met. Under AB 900, counties are required to match 25% of the total $1.2 billion (approximately $300 million) in funding for local jail projects. Counties with population’s less than 200,000 are eligible to have their matching funds reduced or eliminated, at the discretion of CSA.

“No one was under the impression that the jail bond funds allocated in AB 900 would be enough to meet the statewide needs for local beds,” said Secretary Tilton. “We are optimistic that the comprehensive reforms passed this year, which build beds that will focus on reentry and rehabilitation, will be a down payment on the statewide need, and help to reduce recidivism and increase public safety.”

To date, 16 counties have signed agreements to cooperate with the state to site a reentry facility. San Joaquin, Calaveras and Amador are the only counties that have a sited reentry facility, and will be converting the former Northern California Women’s Facility in Stockton into a secure community reentry facility. Following today’s meeting, the CSA will release a revised Request For Proposal. Proposals from counties applying for Phase I jail bond funds under AB 900 will be due on March 18, 2007.

The CSA works in partnership with city and county officials to develop and maintain standards for the construction of local jails and juvenile detention facilities and their operation. The CSA is composed of 19 members, including the CDCR secretary, four members designated by the secretary, and 14 members appointed by the Governor in consultation with CDCR and with the consent of the Senate. For more information on CSA visit: www.cdcr.ca.gov.

Monday, December 10, 2007

CDCR Staff, Inmates and Wards Host Holiday Food Drives, Fundraisers and Events Contributing to Local Communities

Rehabilitation Program Benefits Youth and Rescued Animals

 
Since mid-November, 25 adult and juvenile correctional institutions and parole offices statewide representing hundreds of individuals have contributed talent, time and money to their local communities this holiday season. Dozens of programs and activities ranging from refurbishing bicycles and repairing toys to holding fundraisers and holiday food drives have either already been conducted or are planned for the coming days and weeks by staff, inmates and wards.

These efforts by institutions and parole offices are intended to make the holidays brighter for those in nearby communities that are less able to participate in holiday activities. To date, donations of nearly $12,000 and more than 600 new and refurbished bicycles have either been distributed or await distribution. Nearly every facility conducts food or toy drives, with many facilities and parole offices adopting classrooms at nearly elementary schools.

“I wholeheartedly support these acts of selflessness on behalf of our staff and inmates. While our institutions strive to be good neighbors all year long, these events during the holidays are an expression of good will by staff and offenders made to some very deserving folks in their surrounding communities,” said CDCR Secretary James E. Tilton. “It is my hope that offenders carry this spirit of benevolence and community concern in their hearts and actions when they eventually leave our facilities and return to the communities from which they came. “

Division of Juvenile Justice Chief Deputy Bernard Warner noted that these activities – and other activities conducted by institutions and parole officers with the juvenile justice system have roots in a philosophy called “restorative justice.” The restorative justice philosophy assumes that when a ward committed a crime that got them referred to the DJJ, society lost something in that act of violence. Restorative justice allows that ward to perform a series of public service acts that restores, or gives something positive back to the community-at-large in a showing of “amends” for that past wrong.

“These worthy causes allow our staff and youth to give back to the community to show how we care for others. We are proud to be part of these programs,” said Warner.
In some institutions, staff sponsored “Shop with a Cop” programs where children-in-need from the community where escorted by correctional officers to a store for a shopping spree. Some wards created or refurbished community decorations for holiday celebrations. Some inmates sponsored Christmas parties for the children who come to visit, complete with toys and a visit from Santa.

It has become a long-standing tradition for CDCR staff, inmates and wards to give back to their local communities. “These charitable projects give everyone in the institutional and parole setting feelings of pride and goodwill during the season of giving,” said Scott Kernan, Chief Deputy Secretary for Adult Programs at CDCR. “These efforts require teamwork, cooperation and generosity. The dividend of giving is the improved morale for those who may not see their own loved ones during the holiday season."
For more information, and to see the accompanying fact sheet listing activities at all participating facilities and parole offices as well as pictures of events that have already occurred, please visit the CDCR website at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/ Media is encouraged to visit this website to identify CDCR activities in your media broadcast or circulation area.

Holiday Fact Sheet