Working to fix a major weakness in California’s beleaguered prison system, state officials are creating a new agency to oversee a Department of Corrections internal affairs unit described by a federal court monitor as “almost totally ineffective.”
The independent oversight authority would provide lawmakers and the public with a window into the internal investigation unit while it is handling cases against any of the 50,000 prison employees in the 33-prison, 160,000-inmate system. Officials within the new unit would help shape the probes, make suggestions about how they should proceed and post their findings on a Web site.
Legislative critics of the prison system said they welcome the oversight office as a critical step toward establishing credibility in the internal affairs process, reports the Sacramento Bee.
The new authority would oversee the Office of Investigative Services, the internal affairs unit that came under heavy criticism in a Jan. 15 special master’s report filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.