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California Prison & Criminal Justice News & Events + 3 Strikes Do you have news relating to California's Prison or Ciminal Justice System and related efforts? Post them here! Also discuss 3 Strike laws.

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Old 04-25-2004, 11:20 PM
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Default Editorial: Not just the contract - Prison system crisis needs systemic solution

Editorial:
Not just the contract - Prison system crisis needs systemic solution
Correcting Corrections: How to end the crisis in California's prison system
Published April 25, 2004

California's prison guards union says it is willing to make pay concessions in exchange for more say over prison closings and future staff levels.

Forget it.

Yes, the state needs to renegotiate its contract with the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. The current provisions relating to prison guard salaries, hours and overtime costs are irrational and need revision.

But the guards' contract alone is not the source of the budget crisis in the prison system. Giving the union more say over prison closings and staffing in return for pay concessions could save money in the short run, but it would further limit the state's power to sensibly manage a prison system that already is unconscionably mismanaged. In the long run, that would make it even harder for the state to get control of costs.

In order to get prison costs under control, it's necessary to understand that the prison guards' contract is part of a larger problem. For years, both the executive and legislative branches of state government have failed to meet their responsibilities with regard to the state's prisons.

The contract didn't materialize out of thin air. It exists because the administration of former Gov. Gray Davis and members of the Legislature lacked the courage to stand up to the union, which is one of the most powerful forces in California politics.

The Department of Corrections has magnified the contract's effects. It has failed to institute basic management practices that would track and reduce key costs, such as overtime. It has not held prison wardens accountable for their management decisions.

And the Legislature has, until recently, masked the contract's excesses. Lawmakers, always willing to cater to the politically powerful union, have ignored overspending and blithely approved supplemental budgets.

So there is plenty of blame to go around. But with the state in fiscal crisis, it's not enough to assign blame. What's needed is a plan to attack the systemwide crisis in the prisons with systemwide reforms. Some parts of that plan already should be obvious.

* Renegotiate key provisions of the contract that clearly contribute to wasteful overtime spending.

* Institute sensible management practices that improve the situation rather than make it worse.

* Use readily available information from the state Controller's Office to create monthly and annual reports on each prison to hold wardens accountable for managing expenditures, including overtime.

* Pass a budget and make it clear that the days of the Legislature routinely covering cost overruns are over

We'll have more to say about these and other ideas in future editorials.

But for any ideas to work, everyone - the governor, corrections officials, lawmakers and the public - must acknowledge that the present situation is unacceptable and that it's time to get the corrections system - not just one part of it - under control.

The only way to do that is to tackle the job across the prison system - to change not only the contract, but also the practices of the Corrections Department and the prevailing attitude in the Legislature. To see why, just look at the unholy combination of contract provisions and management practices that drive up overtime costs.
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Old 04-29-2004, 06:31 PM
brenda12 brenda12 is offline
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Default Real Reform

An interesting article but one that only glances the surface of the problem, and there is definitely a problem! The article attibutes the lucrative CCPOA contract to Gray Davis. Sorry, got to go way further back than that. Try Governor Deukmejian! He was the first to deliver back to back double digit raises to the union. Prior to him, Governor Brown's pet law enforcement agency was the California Highway Patrol and not CCPOA. It wasn't until Dukmejian arrived that CCPOA began to blast forward in attractive salary/benefit contracts.

Governor Pete Wilson was a much tougher opponent for that union but he still continued a steady pattern of raises. By the time Gray Davis arrived the seeds had already been well sown, so any finger pointing at poor old Gray have sadly missed the boat badly. Gray also got stuck with the PG&E energy crisis fiasco that Pete Wilson actually created! I'm not taking up for Gray as I never thought very much of him at all! However, he was not the real boogy man in any of the states current fiscal woes. He inherrited most of them from the prior even far more corrupt Republican governors who preceeded him!

Back to the CCPOA contract, that union has all along been willing to re-negotiate that lucrative contract as this article does acknowledge. In that regard it is finally a truthful article. However, CCPOA's position was and still seems to be that they will not re-negotiate that contract until the state cut's their own enormous administrative beauracratic waste within the corporate structure of CDC and in that regard they are absolutely correct! The article corrrectly verifies this often unreported fact!

The workers contract is indeed a lucrative one that could withstand some toning down. Even they have been on record acknowledging that. Though that fact is rarely reported. The real waste is not in that contract but in the wasteful administrative fiscal squandering of CDC's own management structure! That fiscal corruption far outgrosses the guards contract! The guards apparently know it and they want CDC to put their own sacred cows on the cutting block table along with CCPOA's.

The State continues to refuse. The State of California has actually benefited from having CCPOA's contract in the media frying pan. So long as CCPOA was the focus, "they" were not! CDC has like a two BILLION dollar budget. That budget is more than every single other state agency . . . combined! That folks is where the real graft, corruption and abuse lies. CCPOA knows it and they continue to refuse to chop their saleries until the State admits "IT" has been the true "theif" of the publics funds. The state continues to refuse to take up CCPOA's challenge.

The negative headlines have been with CCPOA, but a famous person once said, "follow the money trail". If you do, you'll find graft and corruption on a scale never before seen or even believed !

Last edited by brenda12; 04-29-2004 at 06:35 PM..
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Old 04-30-2004, 10:33 PM
apachemouse33 apachemouse33 is offline
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It sure does go WAY back...I can atest to that...they have been misusing funds for many years!!!Their is a lot of administrative "pork barreling"...always has been...I could tell a lot but not with my husband in their hands!!!
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