SACRAMENTO — A catalog of recent misconduct cases in California's corrections system includes allegations that prison guards groped and grappled with inmates, brought them drugs, shared their booze and solicited them for sex.
The two-volume report, issued this week by the independent Office of Inspector General, chronicles 278 disciplinary cases the watchdog agency monitored from July to December 2012.
The report includes numerous allegations of prison workers delivering drugs and mobile phones to inmates, having sex with them and turning a blind eye to or even arranging inmate assaults. Some cases were dismissed or handled administratively; others were turned over to county prosecutors.
In one alleged coverup involving seven prison officials, a guard accepted an inmate's challenge to a fistfight, stripped off his prison gear and began a fight that was ultimately broken up by another guard's baton, the report says. Afterward, the guard allegedly staged an assault by the inmate to "fabricate a legitimate reason for the injuries he suffered earlier."
The guard was charged with six felony counts. He pleaded no contest to reduced misdemeanor charges. He and three other officers lost their jobs over the incident and two other prison officials took pay cuts.
The inspector general's report includes four alleged cases of corrections officers ordering assaults on inmates, including a parole agent accused of soliciting a parolee to murder another parolee. That April 2012 incident remains under investigation.
In other cases, the independent reviewers criticize the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for long delays in investigating alleged misconduct. Internal investigators took nearly a year to file a report on a security chief — accused of sexual relations with inmates in a juvenile facility — while he was allowed him to remain on paid leave.
The office of inspector general, however, praised the corrections department for improving its reporting of discipline cases. But it said gains still need to be made in the southern part of the state, where the handling of nearly a third of all disciplinary reports was still deemed "insufficient."
The twice yearly reports by the inspector general are the offshoot of court cases against the corrections department involving use of force and the care of inmates.
The public airing of internal investigations, whose files remain confidential, is part of what department spokeswoman Terry Thornton called "the most transparent employee investigation and disciplinary process in the nation." She said it reflects a "model internal affairs investigation and employee disciplinary process that is fair, consistent and transparent."
She also said the vast majority of the corrections department's "more than 46,000 employees are hard-working and professional."