Editor: Clearly there is nothing in these new rules that could be considered an advance for the plight of California prisoners who face torture (and the threat of torture) in the Security Housing Units. We print this for informational purposes for those facing this repression and hoping to understand it better.
This is in regards to "the new rules for deciding who is a gang member or associate and whether those prisoners are placed in a Security Housing Unit."
Prisoners in California: you must request and insure that your institution makes the new rules concerning "gang validation" available to every prisoner as they are not currently making them so. In the meantime if you wish to receive them independent of CDCR, then you can request them directly from the California 'Prison Law Office.' You should also request the new 'Pilot Program Memorandum' concerning the new validation process as this has also not been made available to many prisoners. You can also request the newly revised criteria for the 'Step Down Porgram' (SDP) as the Title 15 California Code of Regulations has not yet been changed to reflect these changes. "The new rules are being phased in between October 2012 and summer 2013 and will be in effect at all CDCR prisons. The pilot program will last for two years while the CDCR evaluates whether it is "effective."
What are the main changes under the Pilot program?
- The validation and housing rules now refer to a broader category of "security threat groups" STG which includes prison gangs, disruptive and/or street gangs;
- When validating prisoners as STG affiliates, the CDCR will continue to take into account similar types of "source items" as under prior gang validation rules. However, there is a new "point" system by which different sources carry different weights. There must be three source items adding up to at least 10 points to validate a prisoner as a STG affiliate, replacing the old rule that just required three source items. To be current, evidence of STG behavior must have occurred within the previous four years.
- STG behavior or possession of STG contraband are now listed as administrative rules violations. STG related directing, controlling, disruptive or violent behavior is a serious rule violation. STG behavior is that which promotes, furthers or assists a STG. There is a matrix setting forth the consequences of STG related rule violations on housing and program status for validated STG affiliates or former affiliates.
What will happen to prisoners who were validated as gang affiliates before the pilot program took effect?
"According to CDCR headquarters staff, the DRB (Departmental Review Board) reviews will be conducted at each prison and prisoners can attend their review hearings. The reviews have already started, but it is not known how long it will take to complete review of approximately 3000 prisoners who were validated as gang affiliates prior to October 2012. Although there are no rules regarding when current SHU prisoners will be reviewed, it appears that the CDCR is starting with the associates who have been in the SHU the longest.
"Prisoners who are released from SHU as a result of the case-by-case DRB reviews (or who were released from SHU under the old rules for inactive gang members) can be placed in SDP for confirmed STG behavior, for getting one serious STG-related rule violation, or for getting two STG-related administrative rule violations within a 12 month period. Prisoners can also be sent to the SDP based on newly received information from other law enforcement agencies or from outside CDCR's jurisdiction; the STG behavior must have occurred within the last four years and the source information must total at least 10 additional validation score points.
"Validated prisoners who were already serving indeterminate SHU terms prior to the enactment of the pilot program will not be re-validated under the new process and criteria. Instead each of those prisoners will be reviewed by the DRB to determine if the prisoner will remain in or be released from the SHU."
What are the criteria for validating prisoners as STG affiliates under the pilot program?
"Validation as either a member or an associate requires at least three independent source items with a combined weighted value of 10 points or greater coupled with information/activity indicative of membership or association. At least one of the source items must be a direct link to a current or former validated STG member or associate, or to a person who was validated within six months of the activity described in the source item.
"The types of validation source items that can be considered are the same as those used by the CDCR in the past. However, the different assigned so that some items are weighted more heavily than others. The points assigned more heavily than others. The points assigned to the various categories are as follows:
"Two points: symbols e.g., hand signs, graffiti, distinctive clothing), written materials that are not in the personal possession of the prisoner (e.g. membership or enemy lists, constitutions, codes, training material)
Three points: association with validated STG affiliates information information, debriefing reports
Four points: written materials that are in personal possession of the prisoner, photos that are no more than four years old, CDCR staff observations, information form other agencies, visitors known to promote or assist STG activities, communications (e.g. phone conversations, mail, notes)
Five points: self admissions
Six points: crimes committed for the benefit, at direction or in association with an STG, tattoos or body markings
Seven points: official legal documents showing STG conduct"
What is the process for validating prisoners as STG affiliates under the pilot program?
"The process for validation under the pilot program is quite similar to the CDCR's previous validations process, although the titles of some of the staff and the names of the forms have been changed."
Where are validated STG affiliates housed?
"Under the pilot program, some STG affiliates must be placed in the Step Down Program which generally requires placement in SHU. However, some STG affiliates can remain in the general population. Where the validated prisoner is housed will depend on the level of STG involvement and/or the prisoner's behavior:
"An STG-1 member will be placed in the SDP
"An STG-1 associate will be placed into the SDP if any of the validation source items involve serious rule violations for STG behavior that are SHU-able offenses.
"An STG-II member or associate will be placed into the SDP if at least two of the validation source items involve serious rule violations for STG behavior that are SHU-able offenses. Otherwise, and STG II member or associate shall be housed in the general population or other appropriate housing (This also applies to the previous STG-1 definition)
"And STG-II member or associate will be sent to the SDP if found guilty of two STG related rule violations which are SHU-able offenses per 15 CCR 3341.5 (c) (9). Prisoners can also be moved to higher validation levels based on newly received information from other law enforcement agencies or from outside CDCR's jurisdiction; the STG behavior must have occurred within the last four years and the source information must total at least 10 additional validation score points.
"Once a prisoner is in the SDP he/she must complete four steps to return to non-segregated housing. However, a prisoner does not need to acknowledge or admit to being an STG-affiliate"
Can validated STG affiliates debrief?
"...Prisoners who are validated as STG-II affiliates can debrief while they are in the SDP, although they may also be allowed to debrief if they are housed elsewhere such as in general population or a regular SHU. The procedures for debriefing are somewhat similar to those under CDCR's previous rules in 15 CDCR 3378.1 through 3378.3. One important difference is that there is no longer a requirement that a debriefing prisoner serve an observation period prior to being in the Transitional Housing Unit (THU).
Note: "In a recent court case, a court held that a jailhouse lawyer's possession of a validated gang associate's chronos for use in preparing legal documents could not serve as validation source item. Since CDCR rules say that prisoners can possess other prisoners documents to assist them with legal work. Because none of the other source items in the validation packet provided a direct link to gang members, the court vacated the validation and ordered the CDCR to release the prisoner from segregation." See: In re Villa (2012) 209 Cal. App. 4th 838 (a de-publication request and consideration for review are pending as of 12/17/12)
The aforementioned new criteria and rules and regulations as listed here is in no way comprehensive, but is merely the most pertinent to the prisoner population. For a more comprehensive copy of the new STG validation, placement and debriefing memo get at your MAC reps and make them do their jobs! or do it yourself and request these documents from the administration at your prison or write the prison law office at:
Prison Law Office, General Delivery, San Quentin, CA 94964-0001
And once you get a copy, try to make enough copies for every building, dorm, etc. on your yard and put them somewhere everyone can see them, such as the dayroom; and spread the word!