Follow-up to USA37239.E of 18 May 2001 on probation and parole in California [USA37378.E]

The Friends Committee on Legislation, "is a non-profit action group (established by Quakers in 1952) that works to bring more compassion and social justice into government by influencing law-making in the State Capitol" (n.d.). What follows are questions by the Research Directorate and the responses received from a Legislative Advocate with this organization:

1. For a person convicted of burglary and serving a four year sentence in a California state prison, what would be considered "typical" terms and conditions of parole?
Parole conditions are specified in Rule 3901-9-3 of the California Code of Regulations, but the parole officer is given considerable latitude to specify conditions that are unique to a particular case. In general, parolees must report promptly to the parole officer when released from prison, and keep the parole officer well informed of their place of residence and work, meet with the parole officer as required, maintain gainful employment, stay free of all illicit drugs and remain sober (attend alcoholics or narcotics anonymous meetings if indicated), submit to random urine tests and searches of automobile or residence, refrain from association with anyone who is connected with illegal activity, and obey all laws.
2. What would be considered a violation of these conditions and what would be the consequences to the parolee?
Depending on the parole officer's views, conversations with other parolees, inability to find work, absence from the place of residence, or a missed appointment can result in a violation of parole, and return to custody for up to 12 months, depending on the severity of the violation. More than one-half of individuals first placed on parole during the years 1993 to 1998 were returned to custody within 24 months; more than 30% were returned within 12 months, according to the California Department of Corrections. Most parole violations are "technical" in that the parolee has not been convicted of any new offense. The violation may reflect the parole officer's judgement that the parolee is involved in misconduct that would soon lead to an arrest and criminal charges.
3. What recourses are available to an inmate at a California state prison who has been assaulted by other prisoners and/or corrections officers (guards)?
Available recourses depend greatly on whether the particular inmate is able to reveal the nature and extent of victimization. According to Dr. James Gilligan, of the Harvard Medical School, "nothing subjects a prisoner to a greater risk of being beaten or even killed by his fellow inmates than to become known as a 'snitch' or a 'rat' - that is, one who subjects his peers to prosecution and punishment by revealing that they have committed crimes." [Violence in California Prisons, Gilligan - March 2000 published by the office of Senator Tom Hayden] Charges against staff are likely to subject the inmate to retaliatory intimidation.
The Department of Corrections has a grievance procedure with three levels of review that may be used by inmates who assert that they have been assaulted either by another inmate or a guard. In addition, there is an Ombudsman who responds to complaints of violence, and an Inspector General who can investigate any offense and seek a remedy. Any inmate may seek an award of civil damages, but he would almost certainly need to find a lawyer willing to take the case to avoid a quick dismissal of the matter. It is almost impossible to find such a lawyer.
Joanne Mariner, of Human Rights Watch, points out that all of these recourses may prove in-effective in most types of cases. [See, "No Escape" - April 2001, pp. 37 and 52-54.]
First, the inmate that asserts he has been assaulted is likely to be immediately segregated from others on a special tier where his movement is restricted exactly as if he were being punished for having committed an offense. From this place, he is unable to develop evidence. Second, witnesses may not be trusted, and are likely to claim they saw nothing. Any claim that a guard engaged in an assault, or arranged the assault, is extremely difficult to prove in an administrative or judicial tribunal.
According to the California Department of Corrections: "During the past 10 years, the number of incidents (assaults) in the California Department of Corrections (CDC) has increased by nearly 100 percent. There were 11,814 reported incidents in 1999.... During a nine month period between July 1999 and March 2000 there were 25 major incidents involving more than 2,000 inmates and preliminary information indicates as many as 32 violent incidents involving at least 20 inmates per incident occurred during April, May and June 2000." [See, CDC Budget Change Proposal, Fiscal Year 2001-2002, Violence Control (Pilot) Program.].
4. At both California State Prison, Centinela (CEN) and the California Institution for Men in Chino, what rehabilitation and/or counselling (for victims of abuse) programs exist for inmates? What criteria, if any, must an inmate meet in order to access these programs?
It appears that the only programs to counsel or rehabilitate prisoners who have been a victims of abuse are those required by the Court in the "Coleman" case for inmates with severe mental disorders. These would not be available to the ordinary inmate at Chino or Centinela (31 May 2001).

For information on the counselling/rehabilitation programs offered at California State Prison, Centinela and/or California Institution for Men in Chino please consult USA37292.E of 18 May 2001. For information on the recourses available to inmates in California state prisons who are assaulted by other prisoners and/or corrections officers (guards) please consult USA37238.E of 18 May 2001.

This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Friends Committee on Legislation of California, Sacramento. 31 May 2001. Correspondence from Legislative Advocate.

_____. n.d. "The Longest Running Cause Lobby in Sacramento." [Accessed 5 June 2001]