CALIFORNIA CITY – Concerns in a recently released Kern County Grand Jury report regarding the California City Correctional Facility are already being addressed, according to spokesperson for the facility.
In a report released Jan. 14, the Grand Jury said the facility – commonly known as CAC and operated by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation – should do more to help inmates with General Education Diploma testing opportunities as well as educate inmates on proper disposal of condoms.
“Although inmate sex is illegal, its occurrence is a fact that must be addressed for the benefit of the inmates and their future partners,” reads the report from the Law and Justice Committee of the grand jury. “Staff, both custodial and medical, stated they do not know how inmates dispose of used condoms, they assume most inmates disposed of them in the toilet. They also indicated that some condoms have been found on the floor.”
The report noted that the facility’s written policy recommending disposal of condoms by flushing them down the toilet is not in line with various health and scientific organization advice.
“The importance of eliminating such a policy is not only for the protection of the user and their future contacts but also to protect our waterway and oceans for future generations,” according to the report.
“Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that the proper disposal of condoms is to wrap them in tissue and throw them in a waste receptacle that is not designated for recycling.”
Recommendations from the committee included revisions to an operational procedure manual and implementation of policies and procedures to educate staff and inmates on proper disposal of condoms.
CAC Administrative Assistant/Public Information Officer Lt. Sharman Parker said they have implemented changes since being visited by grand jury members.
“CAC is currently updating the its Operational Procedure to align with the Grand Jury’s recommendation for condom disposal of wrapping the used condom in tissue, and disposing it in a waste receptacle that is not designated for recycling,” she said via e-mail.
The committee toured the facility on Oct. 10, meeting with executive staff and various correctional officers and had impromptu discussions with inmates in their housing units and classrooms.
While visiting a GED class, inmates expressed frustration with delays in taking GED examinations extending for several months.
“These delays add to inmate frustration; they study and prepare for an exam only to have their test date cancelled,” reads the report. “Obtaining a GED is a source of pride and symbolizes a better future.”
At the time of the grand jury visit, CAC lacked qualified personnel to administer the exams, but were in the process of filling the recently vacated position for an education program principal. GED classes, or like programs, are mandatory for all inmates who have not completed their high school education and only certified examiners can administer the tests.
Between July 1, 2019 and the date of the visit no inmate had completed GED testing due to the absence of a qualified test examiner. A GED Testing Coordinator was said to be in training as of Oct. 18, 2019 with GED testing scheduled to resume by the end of November.
“CAC has addressed the inmate GED testing by hiring two GED proctors, and an Education Program Principal. The GED Proctors began GED testing on December 1, 2019, and are currently administering GED tests to CAC inmates,” said Parker. “Since the last Kern County Grand Jury visit, 111 tests have been proctored, and 20 GED’s have been completed. In addition, CAC and CDCR’s Office of Correctional Education monitors GED results monthly.”
Responding to a recommendation from the 2018-2019 Grand Jury report to explore possible use of satellite portable classrooms to increase availability of classes and programs, CAC had provided a Tenant Improvements Priority Wish List to their landlord, CoreCivic. The request was for four modular trailers, two of which would be used for vocational education programs.
California City Correctional Facility is located at 22844 Virginia Boulevard, California City, CA 93505. Built in 1999 by Corrections Corporation of America, the California City Correctional Facility Prison was initially utilized as a Federal prison to house Immigration and Customs Enforcement inmates. On October 28, 2016, CCA was rebranded as CoreCivic. Owned by CoreCivic, the facility was first leased by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in October of 2013; the lease has been extended to 2020. The “monthly lease base rent” is $2,375,310. CoreCivic provides 24/7 maintenance and upkeep with a staff of on-site technicians and tradesmen. CAC is staffed and operated under the authority of the CDCR. CAC has a capacity of 2,550 beds. On October 4, 2019, the inmate population was 2,385.
The total annual budget for the fiscal year 2019-2020 is $79,258,493, which is broken down into: $57,022,677 for General Security; $15,250,167 for Inmate Support; $4,748,681 for Administration; $2,036,905 for Education; $86,941 for Substance Abuse Program and $113,122 for Community Resources.
The facility received its first CDCR inmate in December 2013. CAC is a Level II (medium level), all male, non-psychiatric, general population prison facility. CAC does not house transgender inmates. The facility consists of three separate housing units A, B, and C. All units are located within one air-conditioned structure. Within each housing unit, there are three pods with a common day room; each pod holds approximately 256 inmates with two-man cells. The Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) is located in Facility A; it consists of ten one-man cells.
Staffing consists of 285 officers, 245 male and 40 female, a ratio of approximately 6:1. Female officers work all positions within the general population. There are 125 civilian staff and an additional 132 medical staff. There is zero tolerance for sexual harassment, bias, and discrimination; annual training in this regard is mandatory for all staff.
The inmate population originates primarily from the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino. The facility houses various gangs and their subsets. Gang activity impacts the facility by introducing drugs and cellphones into the facility by mail, visitors, and compromised staff. The cellphones facilitate the day-to-day operations and transactions within the street gangs. Drugs place inmates at risk from overdose, dependency, and violence. Consequently, staff is placed at risk. The gangs are disruptive groups that affect everyone by jeopardizing the safety and security of the public, staff, and inmates.
Inmates identified with a moderate to high likelihood to reoffend are classified as a priority for placement in the following applicable programs: Substance Use Disorder Treatment, Anger Management, Criminal Thinking, Family Relationships, and Alcoholics Anonymous. Approximately 26 voluntary programs are available to the inmates that include Marley’s Mutts – Pawsitive Change, Criminal Gangs Anonymous, Alternatives to Violence, and Yoga.
Adult Basic Education, GED, High School Diploma, College, Vocational Electronics, Vocational Education Competency Literacy, and Transitions (release assimilation program) are available but there is a significant waiting list for each. CAC has applied to the CDCR Office of Education to add educational programs to accommodate the demand.