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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 10, 2013 | By Paige St. John
In the days before mass protests swept over California prisons, state officials began increasing the privileges inmates receive in solitary confinement, where those protests were being organized. (See memo here.) Then when the strike began Monday, a prison official sought to cut by half one of the few types of personal items that inmates in isolation are allowed to keep: books. The memo restricted from 10 to five the books that may be kept by inmates in the security housing unit at Pelican Bay State Prison.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 12, 2014 | By Paige St. John
FRENCH CAMP, Calif. - California's $840-million medical prison - the largest in the nation - was built to provide care to more than 1,800 inmates. When fully operational, it was supposed to help the state's prison system emerge from a decade of federal oversight brought on by the persistent neglect and poor medical treatment of inmates. But since opening in July, the state-of-the-art California Health Care Facility has been beset by waste, mismanagement and miscommunication between the prison and medical staffs.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 10, 2013 | By Paige St. John
This post has been updated. See below for details. Meal strikes and work stoppages continued for a third day Wednesday in most of California's crowded prisons. State corrections officials said the number of inmates refusing meals dipped to just under 29,000, while some inmates failed to go to their prison jobs or classes. Not all inmates who are refusing meals are fasting, state officials said. "Many of those inmates are also eating canteen," said corrections spokesman Jeffrey Callison, referring to the instant soups and snack items inmates can buy at prison canteens.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 5, 2014 | By Paige St. John
SACRAMENTO -- Shortages of medical supplies, soap, towels and inadequate staffing levels are cited by a court-appointed official's decision to halt admissions to California's newest prison. But an inspection by lawyers who represent inmates in class-action litigation against the state say they also found design flaws in the new $839-million building that hinder its use to house chronically ill or disabled inmates. The state prison system's court-appointed medical receiver halted admissions to the Stockton prison on Jan. 27. In a court filing Friday, he accused California prison officials of treating the problems interfering with medical care as a "second-class priority.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 21, 2013 | By Chris Megerian
SACRAMENTO -- California lawmakers continued their review of the state's troubled prison system on Monday as Gov. Jerry Brown's administration received more time to negotiate ways to reduce overcrowding behind bars. The state is under court order to reduce its prison population by thousands of inmates because a panel of three federal judges determined that overcrowding was preventing access to adequate medical care. The deadline for cutting the prison population was delayed an additional 28 days on Monday , giving more time for administration officials to discuss a resolution with lawyers representing inmates.
OPINION
September 26, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
The three federal judges who have ordered California to dramatically reduce its prison population have now pushed back their deadline by 30 days. The delay is both less and more than it seems. It's less, because it's nothing close to the three extra years that Gov. Jerry Brown said he would need to reduce overcrowding and to keep the number of inmates capped. Instead of facing a Dec. 31 compliance date, the governor and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation now have until late January.
NEWS
October 15, 2012 | By Paul Whitefield
It's true that many people find romance at work. After all, most of us spend a lot of time at work, and the people at work often share our interests and desires. But who knew that was also true at California prisons? As my colleague Jack Dolan reported Sunday: Twenty California prison employees suspected of smuggling cellphones to inmates have resigned or were fired in recent months, according to a report from the state's prison watchdog agency. Most of those employees were accused of taking the phones in for cash, while others were suspected of doing it for love or something like it, according to the report.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 9, 2013 | By Chris Megerian
SACRAMENTO -- The statewide protest launched by California inmates on Monday comes at a time of widespread turmoil in the state's prison system. Tens of thousands of prisoners are refusing meals as inmate leaders plan to renew a hunger strike that began two years ago. They're demanding improvements in prison conditions and limits on how long inmates can be held in solitary confinement. At the same time, legal battles involving overcrowding and disease outbreaks have dogged a prison system that has long been a magnet for controversy.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 18, 2013 | By Paige St. John
SACRAMENTO -- The United Nations' lead torture investigator says he is worried about increased use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and wants access to California lockups to ensure that prisoners' rights are being protected. "We should have more justification" for putting prisoners in isolation, Juan Mendez, the UN's special rapporteur (reporter) on torture told The Times' editorial board Friday. He called for greater scrutiny of prison systems that routinely put inmates in solitary confinement.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 20, 2013 | By Chris Megerian
SACRAMENTO -- The decades-long battle over California prisons continued on Thursday as federal judges ordered Gov. Jerry Brown to begin releasing inmates to reduce overcrowding in state lockups. The case is rooted in a 1990 lawsuit, when attorneys for state inmates said their constitutional rights were being violated because of inadequate mental-health care. Years later, in 2001, another lawsuit was filed, charging the state with failing to provide sufficient medical care.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 30, 2014 | By Paige St. John
SACRAMENTO -- A federal judge Thursday agreed to hear evidence in the death of a California prison inmate who, while on suicide watch, was pepper sprayed by guards because he refused to remove his hands from his cell door. The inmate relied on a breathing tube, which he removed after being sprayed, and he died some eight hours later in what prison officials initially ruled a potential suicide, corrections reports show. The man's parents have accused prison officials of attempting a cover-up in the case, an allegation California prison officials adamantly deny.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 15, 2014 | By Paige St. John
SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown plans to increase California's use of private prison cells and leases with local jails even if federal judges agree to give the state more time to meet crowding limits within its own lockups, his budget documents show. Detailed expenditure records released after Brown announced the highlights of his proposed budget for 2014-15 show that the governor expects to increase the use of outside prison contracts. His plan sets aside nearly $500 million to pay for and administer prison contracts to take nearly 17,700 inmates, increases of $100 million and 4,700 prisoners over the current year.  A little more than half of those prisons are out of state.
OPINION
December 1, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Treatment of prison inmates has finally begun to capture the attention of California's lawmakers and public, in large part because two lawsuits over constitutionally inadequate medical and mental health care resulted in a federal court order to reduce the inmate population by thousands. The Dec. 31 deadline has been pushed back to February as the state negotiates with plaintiffs in the consolidated suits, and lawmakers and the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown work through plans to devote more funding to treatment and alternative sentencing for mentally ill felons.
NEWS
October 24, 2013 | By Evan Halper
WASHINGTON--As Washington tries to find a way past the political dysfunction that triggered the shutdown of the federal government, Gov. Jerry Brown came to town Thursday to suggest it look for inspiration in California. Brown told a ballroom of liberals celebrating the anniversary of the Center for American Progress, one of the left's favorite think tanks, that it was only a few years ago California had been written off by the pundits as a lost cause. “Three years ago California was called a failed state,” he said.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 22, 2013 | By Robert J. Lopez
This post has been corrected. Please see the note below for details. A reputed prison gang leader who is accused of cutting his GPS ankle device while on probation in San Bernardino County has been captured after fleeing to Missouri, authorities said Tuesday night. Albert "Spanky" Amaya was validated by state corrections authorities as a crew chief for the Mexican Mafia prison gang, according to the San Bernardino County Probation Department. Amays, 45, was convicted of extortion, his third felony conviction, and sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison in 2008.  But under a voter-approved measure last year that allowed "three strikes" inmates to seek re-sentencing, Amaya was released in June to the supervision of the Probation Department, authorities said.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 21, 2013 | By Chris Megerian
SACRAMENTO -- California lawmakers continued their review of the state's troubled prison system on Monday as Gov. Jerry Brown's administration received more time to negotiate ways to reduce overcrowding behind bars. The state is under court order to reduce its prison population by thousands of inmates because a panel of three federal judges determined that overcrowding was preventing access to adequate medical care. The deadline for cutting the prison population was delayed an additional 28 days on Monday , giving more time for administration officials to discuss a resolution with lawyers representing inmates.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 8, 2013 | By Paige St. John
California officials Monday said 30,000 inmates refused meals at the start of what could be the largest prison protest in state history. Inmates in two-thirds of the state's 33 prisons, and at all four out-of-state private prisons, refused both breakfast and lunch on Monday, said corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton. In addition, 2,300 prisoners failed to go to work or attend their prison classes, either refusing or in some cases saying they were sick. The corrections department will not acknowledge a hunger strike until inmates have missed nine consecutive meals.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 15, 2013 | By Chris Megerian
SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown's attempt to convince the U.S. Supreme Court that California's prison crisis is over stalled Tuesday when the justices refused to hear his appeal of court-ordered caps on the state's prison population. The decision means Brown may have to reduce that population by thousands of inmates by the end of January, the deadline set by a panel of three federal judges. If that's the case, the governor and lawmakers plan to rely heavily on housing inmates in private prisons, and a new contract was announced on Tuesday .  However, Brown administration officials are entering negotiations with lawyers for inmates to extend the deadline by three years, saying they could use the extra time to lower the prison population by expanding rehabilitation programs and reduce the number of former inmates returning to prison for new crimes.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 18, 2013 | By Paige St. John
SACRAMENTO -- The United Nations' lead torture investigator says he is worried about increased use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and wants access to California lockups to ensure that prisoners' rights are being protected. "We should have more justification" for putting prisoners in isolation, Juan Mendez, the UN's special rapporteur (reporter) on torture told The Times' editorial board Friday. He called for greater scrutiny of prison systems that routinely put inmates in solitary confinement.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 15, 2013 | By Chris Megerian
SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown's attempt to convince the U.S. Supreme Court that California's prison crisis is over stalled Tuesday when the justices refused to hear his appeal of court-ordered caps on the state's prison population. The decision means Brown may have to reduce that population by thousands of inmates by the end of January, the deadline set by a panel of three federal judges. If that's the case, the governor and lawmakers plan to rely heavily on housing inmates in private prisons, and a new contract was announced on Tuesday .  However, Brown administration officials are entering negotiations with lawyers for inmates to extend the deadline by three years, saying they could use the extra time to lower the prison population by expanding rehabilitation programs and reduce the number of former inmates returning to prison for new crimes.
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