The following was initially published as an update to Bob Walsh's post of 8/8/13, “Shameless cable plug, part II,” the topic of which was CNN’s investigative report on realignment and 290 supervision.
Insofar as the added content was an op-ed by the esteemed Robert Denninger, Paco reprises his astute, informed observations to make certain they did not get overlooked.
Bob Walsh's introduction to the update is also included. -
I received a note from Robert Denninger regarding this post. He asked me to add his comments to the post. For those of you who do not recognize the name, Mr. Denninger has been retired for some years but he had a lengthy career with the department and was the Chief Deputy Director for five years when he retired and therefore has significant been-there, done-that time. His comments are valuable. Please note that I am typing these in myself from hard copy. Any errors are mine, not his. -Bob Walsh
Bob, outstanding coverage of the Anderson Cooper/Drew Griffin, CNN investigative report on “Realignment” and Supervision of Sex Offenders in California! I thought the report was accurate and well done. Susan Kane hit the nail on the head. She is bright, an excellent correctional practitioner and a stand-up person. The corrections administration should commend her for making the report possible. However, I doubt that is their intention.
AB109 has worked well in one area, temporarily reducing the prison count; however, this has not satisfied the court. There is no proof realignment has had a significant rehabilitative impact. On the negative side, it has significantly undermined probation and parole supervision, exacerbated overcrowding and early releases in many county jails, and inundated many counties with felons (many of whom are running loose, unsupervised in our communities). Compounding these issues are the departments actions in early discharge of thousands of offenders including those violent and having significant mental health needs who had been recommended for retention on parole. The harm to public safety as a result of these actions is well documented throughout the state.
Prior Corrections Secretary Matthew Cate and Undersecretary of Operations Terry McDonald trumpeted realignment as a progressive step forward that would result in great fiscal savings, large scale rehabilitation and reduce prison overcrowding. It was stressed that the targeted population was low level (non-serious, non-violent, and non-sexual). This was a gross misrepresentation which persists today; the only thing low level about many of the realigned is the title of their most recent commitment offense. More in-depth analysis reveals that many of the realigned have serious and lengthy criminal histories and present a high risk of reoffending. As documented by Drew Griffin, AB109 as written and implemented constitutes incentive for many repetitive offenders with well ingrained criminal life styles to remain unchanged.
Department of Corrections seasoned correctional practitioners, particularly parole administrators, attempted to advise the Secretary of potential problems with the legislation prior to implementation. After implementation, documentation of incidences of serious criminal conduct by the realigned were placed in the daily report to the Secretary and Inspector General.
The Undersecretary, Operations, thereafter ordered reporting of this data stopped and discouraged reporting of any negative data pertaining to “Realignment.” Thereafter, the Secretary removed the Director of Parole. This is a vivid example of the Director of Parole doing his job, trying to uphold public safety, attempting to advise superiors of serious adverse consequences of implementation of 'Realignment.” Undersecretary, Operations Terry McDonald, attempted to squelch reporting of any material which could be construed as reflecting in a negative fashion towards “Realignment.” She reportedly frequently labeled material “attorney-client privilege” to protect material from disclosure as required by the public records act.
Early on, had the Secretary and officials of the Department utilized an inclusive approach in planning “Realignment” that included operations staff, particularly the parole division, a more viable plan which enhanced public safety would have resulted.
These missteps have resulted in departmental employees committed to public safety with no viable internal departmental avenue for discussing their concerns. The result was seen last night.
It is hard for me to understand how Martin Hoshino, the Undersecretary, Operations or the Governor's staff can say with a straight face that implementation of “Realignment” is progressing well or even suggest that the problem might be that Judge Guiliani needed to refine his screening for early jail releases. I realize they have no experience as correctional practitioners, no correctional operations background, but how can there be such a disconnect with the real world?
It is obvious that much communication, fence mending, team building and enhancement of public safety are needed.