Wednesday, July 20, 2016

LA WEEKLY on CIW Suicides

Erika Rocha spent her 35th birthday— her last birthday — at California Institution for Women (CIW), the smaller of the state's two female-only prisons. In the yard of the Chino Valley facility, about an hour east of downtown L.A., her friends threw her a Tinker Bell party.
"For two weeks Erika was asking what kind of party she was having," one of her friends, nicknamed Grumpy, would later write in a booklet distributed at Rocha's memorial service. "Everyone kept telling her, 'You're just having a private little dinner with your honey.' She came up to [another friend] Dreamer and was all, 'I know you can't hold water, so what are you guys doing for my B-Day?' [Dreamer] can't keep those kinds of secrets so [she] just smiled and was like, 'You're having a little dinner like you wanted.'"

At the age of 14, Rocha had been arrested for her involvement in the nonfatal shooting of her foster mother (there were two other minors involved; it's not clear who pulled the trigger). Tried as an adult, Rocha pled guilty to attempted murder and was sentenced to 19 years to life.
"Our friend Joey made her a Tinker Bell dress," Grumpy wrote. "Miriam made Erika some really nice wings. She also made wings for everyone that was invited. ... There was menudo, tacos, nachos and pasta salad. An hour before the party started we all went to Erika's room with her dress. ... She was so excited. I've never seen her this happy before."
Rocha spent her first year in prison, at the age of 16, in solitary confinement, ostensibly for her own protection. A sign on her cell door read, "Minor, Do Not Approach." At 17, she entered general population at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, in the heart of the Central Valley. She was transferred to CIW in 2011.

"When it was time to start, everyone had their wings on waiting out back for Erika. When Erika came out with her wand and dress she had the biggest smile. It was awesome! She came right up to me and gave me a huge hug and whispered, 'Thank you, Grumpy. I've never had a big party.'"
This year, after 22 years of incarceration, Rocha finally was close to coming home. That's what she told her stepmom, Linda Reza (who'd been trying to get custody of Rocha at the time of the shooting), on the phone in early April, a few weeks before she was scheduled to appear before the parole board.
"She was all excited," Reza recalls. "She said, 'Yeah Mom, I'm coming home. I just want to get this over and done with.'"
On April 14, Rocha's body was discovered hanging in her 10-by-15-foot cell, in the psych ward at CIW, the noose around her neck fashioned from a bedsheet and tied around a heating vent. There was no suicide note.
Rocha's parole hearing had been scheduled for the next day.
"I don't understand," Reza says. "She just called me two weeks ago and said she's coming home. It doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense at all."
Stories like Rocha's have become far too common at California Institution for Women, which has seen a surge in suicides and suicide attempts in the last few years. Six women have killed themselves at the prison since the start of 2013, and there have been 73 suicide attempts, according to the California Department of Corrections. Prisoner-rights advocates say the number of attempts is likely higher. Between 2006 and 2013, there was just one suicide at CIW, according to a Department of Corrections spokesperson.
The suicide rate at CIW, as reported by the Department of Corrections, is five times the state average, and four to five times the national average for all female inmates in state prisons.
"I've known a number of people who attempted suicide at CIW," says Cirese LaBerge, a former inmate at the prison. "I could walk down the yard — if you just look down at people's wrists, you see old wounds and scars."
State prison officials have not identified a reason for the increase in suicides and suicide attempts at CIW.
"Each suicide has different factors," says California Department of Corrections spokeswoman Vicky Waters. "We don't see any links in the suicides at this point that indicate our system is failing. But we do recognize we have challenges, and we do need to look at things closer."
Numerous lawyers, advocates and former and current inmates describe CIW as an institution lost in hopelessness.

"There is clearly something wrong," says Angie Junck, supervising attorney for the California Coalition of Women Prisoners. "There's a greater sense of despair there that I haven't seen in other prisons."
Mara Plasencia is a current inmate at CIW; she too made the move from Valley State, where she knew Rocha.
"I don't know what happened to her down here," Plasencia says. "People, they were different up north. Not so quick to run to drugs. A lot of people are lost down here, and I don't know why. People changed. I don't know what it is about here."

In a letter to the California Coalition for Women Prisoners dated March 21, 2015, April Harris, a CIW inmate, wrote: "We have women dropping like flies. ... I have been down almost 20 years and I have never seen anything like this. Ever."
There were two suicides at the prison in 2015 and at least 23 suicide attempts

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

MOU Copies

As you have probably heard, we encountered errors in the newly printed copies of the MOU and have sent these copies back to the printer for correction. We will be back in the process of distribution just as soon as the printer has fixed the errors. Many thanks to Labor/Legal Coordinator Melanie Rogers at CCPOA's HQ for working above and beyond the call of duty to get the errors fixed! 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Drug use up in California Prisons

Drug use behind bars appears to have increased since California started using drug-sniffing dogs and machinery to try to stop smuggling at state prisons, where overdose deaths are nearly five times the national rate, records show.

It’s unclear exactly why things haven’t gone as officials projected.
Some say the testing can yield artificially high results. Others say it’s too soon to draw any long-term conclusions. Still more say the program simply is not working. Prison officials won’t divulge details on results of the multimillion-dollar program.

After the AP reported a year ago that the department couldn’t demonstrate the program’s effectiveness, officials said they would look for a decline in positive drug tests, overdose deaths, suicides and violent incidents, and increased participation in rehabilitation programs.

Instead, detected drug use increased from 5.5 percent before the program began to 7.3 percent of inmates who were tested in the first year in eight of the 11 prisons where California added drug-sniffing dogs and drug-detecting scanners, according to data provided to The Associated Press.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A/W at CCWF held on child sex charges

An associate warden at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla was arrested Monday on suspicion of sexually abusing a minor, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office said.

Travis Wright, 45, of Coarsegold, was taken into custody Monday morning and booked on several sex-related offenses, the sheriff’s office said. The crimes are not related to his position with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Wright is not suspected of having committed any crimes at the prison.

Wright started as a correctional officer at the prison in 1996 and his most recent position was associate warden of business services, prison spokeswoman Terry Thornton said. His most recent position mostly involved handling fiscal issues, Thornton said.

The arrest is the result of a months-long investigation into crimes that allegedly took place years earlier and were just recently reported, the sheriff’s office said.

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Looking for a few good Wardens

The powers at be have to take a real good look at the selection process for Wardens.  Anybody else notice the quality of leaders were getting in our department?  Managers now are coming from PIA, Culinary, Business Managers ect.....

Would a major Police department hire a Police Chief who was a not a graduate of a Police Academy?

Examination Bulletin
Released This Week:
June 20 – 24, 2016
Warden, Division of Adult Institutions
Final Filing Date: 07/05/2016

Monday, May 30, 2016

CMC Searching for Contraband

The California Men’s Colony is on lockdown until at least Tuesday while the institution investigates whether dangerous contraband was brought inside the state prison, according to CMC spokeswoman Lt. Monica Ayon.

CMC, on Highway 1 just outside of San Luis Obispo, has been on lockdown since about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, when it received an anonymous call stating that dangerous contraband had been trafficked into the institution by some of the inmates allowed outside on fire crews, Ayon said. She added that she was not at liberty to state what the contraband allegedly is.
“We’re doing our best to conclude and complete this investigation as soon as possible and return to a normal program,” she said.

Staff has been working around the clock to validate the tip and to locate the contraband or determine that it was not brought in.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Office of Emergency Services and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are helping with the investigation.
CMC will remain locked down until at least Tuesday, when officials will re-evaluate whether to continue the lockdown or resume a normal program, Ayon said.

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The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Office of Emergency Services and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are helping with the investigation.
CMC will remain locked down until at least Tuesday, when officials will re-evaluate whether to continue the lockdown or resume a normal program, Ayon said.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

RJD News story

RJD Officer making alleged claims against his partners.