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Senate Narrowly Confirms Campoy as Folsom Warden

March 15, 1985|CARL INGRAM | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — The Senate handed Gov. George Deukmejian a narrow victory Thursday on his appointment of controversial Warden Joe Campoy of Folsom Prison, who has been accused of ignoring charges of sexual harassment of female guards.

But in a separate action less than three hours later, Deukmejian's office announced that he will withdraw the nominations of two other wardens who were appointed to operate prisons that will not be constructed for several years.

Result of Criticism

A Department of Corrections spokesman said the abrupt action came as a result of criticism in the Legislature over appointing wardens when no prisons exist for them to administer. The wardens are paid between $57,000 and $61,000 a year.

The spokesman said that under a policy change made Thursday, wardens will not go before the Senate for confirmation until one or two months before the new prisons are to open.

Senate confirmation of Campoy, an up-from-the-ranks prison guard, came after more than 90 minutes of emotional debate over whether he, among other things, tolerated sexual harassment of female guards by their male counterparts.

As a crowd of supporters in the gallery broke into applause, Campoy was confirmed on a narrow 21-15 vote, the precise margin required in the 40-member Senate. Eight Democrats joined with 13 Republicans in voting "yes," while all the "no" votes were cast by Democrats.

The crucial 21st vote came from Sen. Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach). Freshman GOP Sen. Becky Morgan of Los Altos Hills abstained. The Senate's other two women, Democrats Rose Ann Vuich of Dinuba and Diane Watson of Los Angeles, voted against Campoy.

For Deukmejian, the confirmation of Campoy, a 39-year career man at Folsom, represented a hard-fought victory over a group of former and currently on-leave women guards who charged that the warden ignored sexual harassment of women employees. Other women guards, most of them married to high-ranking guards, defended him.

Not Participant

Supporters and opponents of Campoy carefully noted during the Senate floor debate that none of the allegations of sexual harassment directly named him as a participant. Both sides called him decent, honorable and honest.

Even as the debate raged, state Corrections Director Daniel J. McCarthy and Youth and Adult Correctional Agency Secretary N.A. Chaderjian were preparing to ask Deukmejian to withdraw the nominations of Otis Loggins as superintendent of a proposed prison at Avenal in Kings County and Roger Schauffel as superintendent of a penal facility in Amador County.

Deukmejian Press Secretary Larry Thomas said that both will remain in Sacramento helping to plan the two prisons and that the two eventually could be renominated as wardens.

Corrections Department spokesman Robert Gore said the policy change of not seeking confirmation of the wardens until their prisons are about to be operational came about "because of recent criticism (that) led us to reconsider the way we were appointing them."

Roberti Leads Opposition

Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles), who led the opposition to Campoy, charged that "sexual harassment clearly exists at Folsom Prison and he has been (a) day-to-day administrator of Folsom Prison for 39 years."

He cited testimony of former female guards or those now on leave who told of incidents of "groping, pushing and grabbing in a sexually offensive context." He also said that for 10 years women guards on gun walks have had access only to unscreened toilets in full view of "five tiers of inmates looking down at them."

Roberti said such a situation "indicates to my mind a callous, negligent inattention to elementary sensitivities regarding sexual conduct and sexual harassment."

The Department of Corrections said Thursday that two "modesty screens" on gun walk toilets have been installed during the last few days and that four others will be installed within two weeks.

Administrative Ability

Sen. Nicholas Petris (D-Oakland) said the chief issue was Campoy's "administrative ability" and as far as sexual harassment was concerned "he must have had knowledge and he either winked at it (or) turned his back on it. . . ."

One defender of Campoy, Sen. Henry Mello (D-Watsonville), suggested that the problems of the prisons were longstanding over many years throughout the entire system yet "Campoy is being blamed for almost everything that is happening out there (at Folsom)."

Aging Folsom Prison, built more than a century ago, is heavily overcrowded and in constant need of repairs, money for which the Legislature and governors have often turned down.

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