Judge Disturbed By Acting CA Prison Chief’s Priority List


A federal judge has threatened more court intervention in California’s prison system if managers retreat from aggressive investigations of misconduct by guards, says the Los Angeles Times. Writing to Acting Corrections Secretary Jeanne Woodford, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson said he was “deeply disappointed” with a memo Woodford sent employees after the resignation of her predecessor, Roderick Q. Hickman, last month. Woodford listed priorities facing the troubled Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation but failed to mention its inmate health care crisis or abolishing the “code of silence,” an unwritten canon that has prevented some officers from reporting misconduct by colleagues. Henderson called those omissions “disturbing.”

The judge canceled a regularly scheduled meeting with Woodford next week, in effect withdrawing from talks on managers’ efforts to police prison staff. Henderson said he was considering other measures to ensure the state’s continued progress on employee discipline. The judge ordered a court monitor to step up scrutiny of the department’s investigations of abuses by staff behind prison walls and to report any “deterioration” of quality. “I see [the letter] like a yellow card [in soccer],” said Donald Specter of the Prison Law Office, which represents inmates in a lawsuit over health care. “It’s intended to let Ms. Woodford and the governor know that they’d better be diligent and vigilant on these issues, because he’s watching.”

Link: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-prisons15mar15,1,7396448.story?coll=la-headlines-california

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