State, prison guard union on collision course again

prison guardThe state is heading for a showdown with the prison guards union over allegations of extreme guard misconduct at the remote High Desert State Prison in Susanville, 150 miles northeast of Sacramento. A harrowing state inspector general’s report depicts an out-of-control prison culture, with overt racism and cruel practices routinely tolerated.

But instead of taking a muted approach in response — or attempting to work out some reforms behind the scenes — the California Correctional Peace Officers Association is gearing up for war, admitting nothing and saying the improprieties were on the part of investigators, not guards.

This is from Associated Press:

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.

CCPOA’s hardball tactics reminiscent of Gray Davis era

072803davisgrayThe stance taken by the CCPOA was remindful of its tactics and attitude during Gray Davis’ nearly five-year run as governor. The prison guards union won a 2002 contract that not only provided big raises — 37 percent over five years for many union members — it also gave union officials a say in management. At a remarkable July 2003 Sacramento hearing, lawmakers heard testimony about how this made it difficult to prevent, much less punish, outrageous guard behavior similar to what’s being alleged at the High Desert prison. The San Francisco Chronicle reported at the time:

On Thursday, eight witnesses shared their versions of a controversy that began at the California Institution for Men in Chino (San Bernardino County) on May 9, 2002. In an alleged incident that included as many as 20 guards, some participating and some watching, five prisoners whose hands and feet were bound were slammed to the ground, beaten and kicked.


Internal affairs agents for the corrections system launched a criminal investigation, according to Special Agent Richard Feaster. A recording of an informant provided especially damning evidence, agents said Thursday. … But the probe quickly ran into trouble.


Using a clause in their contract with the state, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association began demanding that agents share the evidence being amassed against guards. Agents were concerned that the case would be compromised if union officials learned who key witnesses were.


The contract the CCPOA signed with Davis …  includes many … provisions, including allowing guards to obtain information being collected against them.

Schwarzenegger demanded, won concessions

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who succeeded Davis in the fall 2003 recall, fought the CCPOA tooth and nail and won back some of the concessions that Davis had made. This led the union to consider mounting a recall attempt against Schwarzenegger in 2007, but it eventually gave up.

In 2010, the CCPOA endorsed Jerry Brown for governor and was rewarded with a 2011 contract that prompted complaints from a Long Beach Press-Telegram editorial:

Brown’s deal reverses some reforms that were made under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, such as the requirement that guards meet physical fitness standards and that allows managers to take action against sick time abuse. To top it off, the deal includes a pay increase.

The recent state inspector general’s report came shortly after Jeffrey Beard announced he was resigning Jan. 1 as secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The former Pennsylvania prison official was brought in by Brown three years ago to shake up a dysfunctional culture, and he got high marks from the governor.

But Beard’s departure won’t be tidy, coming against a backdrop of the ugly fight playing out at the High Desert prison. Brown — like Davis, his former chief of staff — and his next prison boss will have to figure out how to treat a union that resists boundaries on its behavior.


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  1. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 23 December, 2015, 14:40

    Godda love those thumbscrews and their union. They know who runs the state. They do! There’s hardly a politician in this state that will defy the influence of LEO unions. The Retardpublicans love law and order and worship anyone who wears a badge to work and the DemocRats have shamelessly whored themselves out to public sector unions. In this state the tail always wags the dog.

    Face it, the average cud chewing California voter doesn’t care about anything except celebrity gossip, vagina steaming rituals, fad diets, football, big screen TV’s and when the next deposit lands in their welfare debit card account. So naturally they don’t care about endemic brutality, corruption and wasteful spending in our dysfunctional prison system. That’s like, you know, someone else’s problem dude.

    Reply this comment
  2. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 23 December, 2015, 16:45

    But instead of taking a muted approach in response — or attempting to work out some reforms behind the scenes — the California Correctional Peace Officers Association is gearing up for war, admitting nothing and saying the improprieties were on the part of investigators, not guards.
    This is why the Federal Courts have taken control of the VCDCR healthcare, and were about a nanosecond away from taking control of the actual custody, because the CDCR prison union, the CCPOA, OWNS the state (legislators) and the state has lost total control, the state cannot control the CCPOA or the guards and federal receivership is what happens next.

    This is very typical of almost ALL public unions in CA today.

    Reply this comment
  3. old retired guy
    old retired guy 23 December, 2015, 20:33

    The bigoted responses show a decided lack of knowledge concerning what routinely happens in the prison setting. Insinuating that all are involved is a generality that is egregious and willfully misleading.
    The pejorative name calling also shows a lack of understanding that the State of California does not employ “prison guards”, nor is corruption and brutality endemic upon the profession of corrections. I have known many hundreds of Correctional Officer who act in a very professional and honorable manner every day of their careers.
    I cannot dispute the wasteful spending for I have seen many instances of that in the 24 years I spent working for CDC.
    As for control issues, it may be that having a lack of coherent leadership in management since Cal Terhune has something to do with that.
    The floundering mismanagement and liberal policies foisted upon the working staff by the CDC due to liberal activist judges rulings from inmate lawsuits also are issues that the staff have had to deal with daily.

    Sure there have been cases of excessive use of force, and they are dealt with through the proper disciplinary process.
    Can the allegations be true, certainly. Can they also be unfounded, certainly.
    Are there agenda’s at work, most definitely.

    How about waiting until all the investigations are completed and due process rights are observed BEFORE rushing to judgement.

    Reply this comment
    • Rex the Wonder Dog!
      Rex the Wonder Dog! 23 December, 2015, 23:27

      I love it when fat trough feeders rattle on about “lack of knowledge”!

      You are not an “officer”, you are a HS educated Adult Baby-Sitter doing a GED job. Deal with it.

      Reply this comment
      • Still Working In The Shit
        Still Working In The Shit 24 December, 2015, 08:22

        Screw all of you who have never worked inside. You are the voters of this State that vote “yes” on everthing and then (read it later). You and the libral judges that are also clueless are the reason the prison system is screwed up. Believe that we are NOT sick hearted H,S. educated individuals that look forward to going to work everyday to abuse inmates. We look forward to be able to go home after an 8 hour shift in one piece. We are in a thankless job that holds no sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. How dare we attempt to do our “sworn oath” to protect society and keep these convicted felons (by a jury of their peers) behind walls. The crimminal mind does NOT cease to function because they are convicted and behing bars for the rest of their lives. They are always thinking up ways to hurt each other or staff. They are the sick ones. Do you realize how much money is being spent to educate an imate who is doing life? Do you realize the money that is being spent on male inmates who want to become females and who are doing life? I guess you are o.k. with spending your tax dollars on sex changes for inmates. I agree that the system is broken. NOT by us who work in there, but by the court system that coddles the weak. I have to pay for all of my medical expenses. I work for them. If I want a sex change, I have to pay for it!!!! If I have cancer, I have to pay for it! If I abuse my body and have the resullting medical issues because of it, I have to pay for it!!!!!! There is NO MAGICAL PILL that will help these inmates get the brain cells back that they have killed by their abuse of the illegal drugs, and now all the “mental health” pills being given out by the truck loads. We need to stop wasting money on them. Yes, there is abuse of the spending budget in the prison system (our tax dollars). Why on earth would we spend money on a heart transplant for an inmate doing life? Then the inmate said, screw you, thanks for the heart, I am refusing to take the anti-rejection meds. Dies anyway. At least he saved us money in the long run. Thanks. Sorry to the “law-abiding”, tax paying productive individual in society working to make a living. Your life was not worth saving.

        If you believe that we are JUST “adult baby-sitters” you are right. Thanks to you and the libral court system, we are getting paid pretty good for watching “adult children” play and work at nothing all day, If you think this response is not well written. Remember I am JUST a Calif. H.S. educated prison guard. Maybe, if this state spent more money on the future of our kids and giving them a proper education, instead of the all ready brain damaged indivuals behind walls paying their dept to society for their crimes, we would have less crimminals to incarcerate and less abuse by “JUST H.S. educated adult-baby sitters”, It is time that everyone gets their heads out of their asses and sees the light. CDCR does not “Rehabilitate” the incarcerated. There is no such thing, because the thought of going to prison is NOT a scary thought in this state. It is just a way to get what they want and more. Rex The Wonder Dog, I am left “wondering”.

        Reply this comment
        • Rex the Wonder Dog!
          Rex the Wonder Dog! 24 December, 2015, 12:23

          Wow, that was one of the biggest meltdowns ever posted on CWD! 🙂

          Reply this comment
          • Still Working In The Shit
            Still Working In The Shit 25 December, 2015, 10:57

            REALITY. Sorry you can’t tell the differents. Your head is still up your ass. Keep living in your dream world. We are all probably better off for it anyway.

        • Ted. Mentor to the doomed....
          Ted. Mentor to the doomed.... 24 December, 2015, 21:00

          WELL said Still working in the sh–

          These taxpayers have zero clue—— they famously bitch about EVERYthing out here 24/7

          Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz it’s a wussy snore fest!!

          Reply this comment
      • Ted. Mentor to the doomed....
        Ted. Mentor to the doomed.... 24 December, 2015, 20:57

        LOL Rex the girl poodle— you’d cry like a nine year old girl doing 5 minutes on a man’s job like being a screw in the joint! LMAO Mr. Whiney J. Milktoast—–waaaaaaaaaaaaaa bwahahahaha

        Reply this comment
  4. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 24 December, 2015, 09:00

    Such vitriol…..CWD becomingbreeding grounds for redneck hate speech……so so sad….

    Reply this comment
  5. Desmond
    Desmond 27 December, 2015, 04:48

    Reality show for Jan. 2016:
    “The stupidest California Prison Guard”
    ….pick your favorites as contestants answer questions with “wow, he really is a dumbness” answers.
    “These self-absorbed, entitled morons will make you forget about the NFL.”
    Remember, this is the California Prison Guards, you will wonder if they can tie shoes without crapping their pants, but you will be surprised at their knowledge of right to not work rules.

    Reply this comment
    • Ted. Mentor to the doomed....
      Ted. Mentor to the doomed.... 28 December, 2015, 20:15

      Here’s a waaaaaaay better reality show Desi Lu

      We take you and a few of the other panty waste troll like the Poodle and make them Correctional Officewrs for a month up at Pelican Bay in the SHU VCU !!! Lmao—- laughter ensues!

      Reply this comment

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Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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