California’s Trench Coat Mafia: CCPOA


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CCPOA: California Correctional Peace Officers Association representing over 33,000 correctional officers, in the news again for attempting to  obstruct and discredit a recent Inspector General investigation. Truly thugs in exerting political power it is no wonder they have been dubbed “The Trench Coat Mafia”…The “Green Wall of Silence is alive and still thriving with in CDCr & CCPOA.

 

Here is the actual report2015 Special Review: High Desert State Prison Susanville, CA

From the SacBee:

Report: Alarming abuses seen at remote California prison

Guards at an isolated state prison have created a “culture of racism,” engage in alarming use of force against inmates and have a code of silence encouraged by the union that represents most corrections officers, the California inspector general said Wednesday.

The scathing report calls for management and other changes at High Desert State Prison in the northeast corner of the state.

More broadly, the report finds rising violence statewide in special housing units designed to protect vulnerable inmates, including sex offenders, gang dropouts and prisoners with physical disabilities.

The months-long investigation was sparked by reports that some guards at the Susanville prison mistreated inmates with disabilities and set up sex offenders for assaults because of the nature of their crimes.

The investigation also found evidence of “a culture of racism and lack of acceptance of ethnic differences” among correctional officers, three-quarters of whom are white.

Inspector General Robert Barton said the California Correctional Peace Officers Association advised members not to cooperate and filed a lawsuit and collective bargaining grievance in a bid to hinder the investigation.

The union sent a letter last month to Gov. Jerry Brown and every state lawmaker in what Barton called “the latest strong-arm tactic” to obstruct the investigation and discredit the inspector general before the report was released.

Union President Chuck Alexander’s letter to Brown accuses Barton of taking a prosecutorial “burn a cop a week” approach to overseeing the corrections department. Union spokeswoman Nichol Gomez-Pryde said the union’s only interest is in protecting its members’ legal rights.

The report came more than a decade after the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation tried to stamp out a culture in which prison guards protect one another when they witness wrongdoing.

It says some problems at the High Desert facility evolved because the prison is so isolated about 90 miles northwest of Reno, Nevada.

Susanville has fewer than 16,000 people, and High Desert and the neighboring California Correctional Center are its largest employers. Workers form tight-knit social groups known as “cars” that can foster a code of silence and make it difficult to report wrongdoing, the inspector general said.

He found that the prison’s nearly 3,500 inmates won’t report abuse because they fear word will spread among employees and lead to retaliation.

The “staff complaint process is broken,” with few employee complaints investigated, the report states.

“This dangerous staff misconduct has been tolerated for too long,” Rebekah Evenson, an attorney with the nonprofit Prison Law Office who represents inmates, said in a statement. “The culture of abuse at High Desert endangers prisoners and the prison staff.”

She called for the department to create a strong external monitor to oversee reforms.

Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, who heads the Senate Public Safety Committee, said the report shows “an insular culture that is in desperate need of reform.”

Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard, who is stepping down from his job on Jan. 1, said the department has already taken steps involving employee training, management changes and investigations of alleged wrongdoing.

“We do not tolerate staff misconduct of any kind,” Beard said in a statement.

The inspector general’s report also recommends changes statewide to make it tougher for employees to learn what crime an inmate committed.

Guards can now use an electronic state database to easily see which inmates have an “R” coding that designates a sex offender. Some spread that information, knowing sex offenders are often marked for retribution, the inspector general found.

He also called for an overhaul of special housing units designed to protect the most vulnerable inmates as the department combats a wave of violence and gang activity in what were supposed to be safe areas.

Background on the infamous CCPOA:

California’s prison-guards’ union

Fading are the peacemakers

 

DON NOVEY used to be the most important man in Californian politics that no one had ever heard of. As president of California’s prison-guards’ association from 1982 to 2002, Mr Novey turned that union into the most powerful in the state. On his watch, California built 21 new prisons. Mr Novey’s organisation also sponsored or supported tough laws that helped to fill those prisons to almost twice their capacity at times. It helped elect two Republican governors and one Democratic one, besides countless state legislators. “We sent candidates 13 questions,” he happily recalls, ranging from their stance on the death penalty to labour issues.

He is especially proud that he won his members by far the most generous wages and benefits that prison officers get anywhere in the country. Under the last deal he negotiated, which expired in 2006, the average member of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) earned around $70,000 a year and more than $100,000 with overtime. (Since then, wages have gone up again.) Mr Novey negotiated pensions of up to 90% of salary starting at as early as 50—more than teachers, nurses or firefighters get, and matched only by the state’s highway patrol.

Continue Reading @ The Economist

The Golden State’s Iron Bars

How California prison guards became the country’s most powerful union

“To borrow from Martin Luther King Jr.,” the head of the California prison guards union said a few years ago, “today I have a dream. I have a dream that the bricks and mortar that were planned to build new prisons will instead be used to build new schools…that an ounce of prevention will be embraced instead of a pound of cure.”

The place was the 2007 California Democratic convention. The speaker was Mike Jimenez, who had become president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) in 2002. Jimenez was attempting to set a new tone for the prison guards, who under his predecessor Don Novey had become the Golden State’s most powerful, feared, and obstructive public-sector union. And in at least one way, Jimenez succeeded: The tone of CCPOA became far more moderate than it had been under Novey’s hard-line leadership.

Unfortunately, the group’s actual behavior has changed barely, if at all. The prison guards union regularly makes seven-figure contributions both to political candidates and to ballot initiative campaigns, nearly all of it with the goal of preventing any decline in the state’s bulging prison population. CCPOA gave $1 million to the successful 2008 campaign against Proposition 5, which would have reduced sentences and parole times for nonviolent drug offenders while emphasizing drug treatment over prison. The initiative failed by nearly 20 percentage points.

To maintain California’s prison-industrial complex, CCPOA must also plow money into broader defenses of the status quo. In 2008 the union gave $250,000 to fight a legislative redistricting referendum and $2 million to oppose a change to the state’s political term limit laws.

The union is no respecter of political party, having made large contributions to both Democratic and Republican governors and to legislative candidates from both parties. It has plenty of money to spare: According to a 2005 study by the Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice, CCPOA collects $21.9 million per year from its 31,000 members.

The prison guards’ guild, which came into its current form only in the 1980s, can make such effective and generous contributions in part thanks to its unique organizing model. By remaining unaffiliated with other unions, CCPOA keeps more direct control over its own funds, allowing it to reward friends and punish enemies (though these two categories can shift over time). It funds and supports numerous PACs and tough-on-crime lobbying organizations, notably Crime Victims United and the Doris Tate Crime Victims Bureau, both of which get most of their funding from CCPOA.

Continue Reading @ Reason

The Price of Prison Guard Unions

The California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) staunchly defends California’s tough-on-crime policies, including strict sentencing laws and pro-incarceration policies. But CCPOA also defends its special interest: it protects the collective bargaining power, pay and benefits of prison guards. A small union with 30,000 members, it is also one of the state’s most powerful lobby organizations. CCPOA argues for a simple equation: stricter sentencing means more prisoners— and more prison guards. In California the results have been disastrous.

In 2010, The Economist magazine dubbed Don Novey the “most important man in California politics that no one had ever heard of.” A former prison guard, Novey was elected president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) in 1980 and held office until 2002. During that time California’s prison population exploded and so did the state’s hiring of prison guards.

Novey made his union a political powerhouse. Today, California’s prison guards union dispenses large amounts of money to political candidates, and it makes contributions to ballot initiatives and endorses or opposes policy proposals that will determine the number, salaries, and benefits of prison guards. Most importantly, the union uses its powerful bully pulpit to instruct California voters about crime and punishment, the two issues that determine how many prisons the state builds and how many prison guards the state hires and pays.

Continue Reading @ Capital Research

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