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A Snow Job Is No Job!: What’s in a Report?
by posted by Mike Rhodes (c/o editor [at] fresnoalliance.com)
Tuesday Jun 16th, 2009 8:32 PM
info from the belly of the beast.
boston-06.jpg
A Snow Job Is No Job!: What’s in a Report?
By Boston Woodard

Two recently completed Solano County Grand Jury Facility Inspection reports (2C06-2007/2008-2009) on California State Prison, Solano (CSP-Solano), in Vacaville were jam-packed with wonderful acknowledgments and kudos that any state prison would be proud of…But not so fast!

This grand jury must have been led around CSP-Solano with a nose ring and blinders to conclude with the compliments and great praise that it did.

According to the reports, the justification for the investigations was Penal Code §919, Subdivision (b): “The Grand Jury shall inquire into the conditions and management of the prisons within the county.” Pursuant to that statute, it was claimed that the grand jury “inspected the California State Prison-Solano” in Vacaville.

According to the grand jury’s findings, during the course of their research, they “toured the facility, reviewed newspaper articles, reviewed materials provided by CSP-Solano, interviewed CSP-Solano’s warden and staff.” The grand jury was apparently strategically manipulated through a few areas of the prison.

The areas within the prison “toured” or “inspected” by grand juries are always forewarned, receiving a huge heads-up. These locations are completely spit-shined, gleamed and glittered before a grand jury’s arrival. (This same preparation is repeated before the arrival of court monitors, politicians and other inspectors from outside the prison facility.) Phone calls and/or memorandums are forwarded to specific area supervisors who are notified and ordered to get rid of, or cover up, any and all problems or violations that might be detected by the inspectors. This isn’t bullshit, this really happens! Hence, what many grand juries see during these so-called prison facility inspections is not necessarily true and accurate. This is common practice and common knowledge in any prison in the state.

The Solano grand jury’s written “action” indicated that prisoners were not discussants or questioned during the so-called facility inspections. Reviewing newspaper articles, interviewing the warden and searching through materials that were provided by those under scrutiny is hardly a complete inspection and presents only half the story.

There are serious ongoing (non-prisoner) violations and misconduct behind these walls that are detrimental, having an adverse effect on many of the programs and lawfully sanctioned departments such as the prisoner’s appeal system. Strategically guiding a grand jury to specific areas and programs and spoon-feeding them what prison officials want them to see is neglect. Grand juries should always interview and question prisoners who have legitimate beefs, and proof, of the internal corruption systemic inside these prisons. The problems that will be revealed during prisoner interviews need to be followed up with corrective action, or they will occur over and over again.

An investigation into CSP-Solano’s appeals office would uncover many of the violations, misconduct and cover-ups that abound throughout this prison.

To uncover the abuses, specific prisoners need to be interviewed, not those prisoners handpicked or strategically organized by prison officials who they know will buttress their claims of a well-run facility.

Review the appeals and grievances that prisoners submit. A grand jury’s inspection of these records will uncover what the prison’s administration does not want them to know about. When grand juries start reviewing prisoner grievances, maybe then will they be fulfilling their duties as written in the law (Penal Code 919) they so dutifully speak of in their reports.

An honest prison appeals system would help eliminate, solve or remedy many of the existing problems inherent throughout the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. By not addressing the corrupt appeals system and many of its morally unethical and crooked “appeals coordinators,” these grand juries are flagrantly remiss by ignoring the ongoing abuses by prison officials.

One of the aforementioned grand jury reports spoke of the cellular phones that prisoners are smuggling into the prison “which causes additional security problems.” This too is misleading. Everyone knows that it is prison staff who smuggle these illegal devices into the prison. It is more politically correct to blame the convicts. Focusing on prisoners being the problem with cellular phones is a problem in and of itself. Go after the real criminals; you know who they are!

There are no doubt some (rehab) programs (and some good ones I might add) that prison administrators gloat about to the media (and grand juries) and to their overpaid superiors squatting in their opulent state prison offices in Sacramento. Exhibiting a couple of pet projects to a grand jury that cater to only a diminutive portion of the prison’s general population does not justify the findings of the Solano County grand jury.

To conclude with such a glowing report, commending the warden and the staff of CSP-Solano for their great “leadership” and “management” is totally off base and inaccurate.

For the Solano County grand jury to be manipulated and snowed by CSP-Solano prison officials is no surprise to those of us who truly know what goes on in these prisons. When these grand juries complacently commend the prison’s administration for being “well organized” and recommend that they “continue operating in the same manner,” it is outright criminal.

The Solano County grand jury needs to regroup, reinspect, get real and carry out a complete and honest investigation of Solano State Prison in Vacaville. The grand jury failed miserably and got it wrong.

*****

Boston Woodard is a prisoner/journalist who has written for the San Quentin News and the Soledad Star and edited The Communicator. Boston writes about real issues that prison officials would rather be kept secret. Contact Boston via mail at Boston Woodard, B-88207, CSP-Solano, 23-F-8-L, P.O. Box 40000, Vacaville, CA 95696-4000.
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big cover updelangWednesday Jun 17th, 2009 7:28 AM
what do you expect?ms_snarkTuesday Jun 16th, 2009 10:24 PM
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