Gov. Jerry Brown just signed an executive order "to help deprive criminals and gang leaders in California's prisons of one of their favorite means of organizing criminal activity: the contraband cellular phone." According to the governor, "these measures would help 'break up an expanding criminal network' that uses cellular phones to plan crimes both inside and outside of prison walls." On the extended text, you can read the governor's press release and the exact wording of the order. Note how artfully it avoids the obvious -- the role of the prison guards in smuggling phones to prisoners. How exactly do these phones reach the gang leaders? Per reports, highly paid prison guards take bribes and bring the phones in with them. The union won't allow comprehensive searching of its employees. This is from the LA Times:
"Lawmakers struggling to keep cellphones away from California's most dangerous inmates say a main obstacle is the politically powerful prison guards union, whose members would have to be paid millions of dollars extra to be searched on their way into work. Prison employees, roughly half of whom are unionized guards, are the main source of smuggled phones that inmates use to run drugs and other crimes, according to legislative analysts who examined the problem last year. Unlike visitors, staff can enter the facilities without passing through metal detectors."So the governor wants to tackle the problem by issuing a toothless executive order that barely touches on the real source of the problem, the guards' union. Granted, the legislation he signed increases penalties, but it too avoids dealing forthrightly with the fundamental problem. I want to note, in fairness, that the bill's sponsor Alex Padilla has been willing to take on CCPOA and the governor's signature is a good thing. But it's so hard to take on these powerful unions. This is what passes for reform in California.
Governor Brown Acts To Protect California Against Criminals and Prison Gangs
SACRAMENTO - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed SB 26 and Executive Order B-11-11, to help deprive criminals and gang leaders in California's prisons of one of their favorite means of organizing criminal activity: the contraband cellular phone. Brown said these measures would help "break up an expanding criminal network" that uses cellular phones to plan crimes both inside and outside of prison walls.
"Prisons exist to remove individuals from our communities who would otherwise do harm to their fellow citizens," said Governor Brown. "When criminals in prison get possession of a cell phone, it subverts the very purpose of incarceration. They use these phones to organize gang activity, intimidate witnesses and commit crimes. Today's action will help to break up an expanding criminal network and protect law-abiding Californians."
Existing law prohibits all unauthorized communication with inmates in state prison and provides for accumulation, loss, or denial of time credits based on inmate behavior. SB 26 by Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) strengthens this by making it a misdemeanor to deliver or attempt to deliver a cell phone to an inmate, punishable by six months in jail and up to $5,000 in fines per device. Furthermore, the bill specifies a loss of time credit for inmates found in possession of phones, and facilitates deployment of technologies to block or disrupt unauthorized cellular transmissions from prisons.
Executive Order B-11-11 complements this legislation by mobilizing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to use existing resources to crack down on the prison cell phone problem. The order calls for an increase in physical searches of people who enter prisons, development of technologies to disrupt unauthorized transmissions and a report on the feasibility of creating "airport-style" security at all prison entrances. The full text of the Executive Order follows:
EXECUTIVE ORDER B-11-11
WHEREAS inmates in prisons throughout the United States have increasingly been able to access contraband cell phones and other cellular devices; and
WHEREAS staff in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) discovered nearly 10,700 contraband cellular devices in 2010, and 7,300 through the first six months of this year; and
WHEREAS inmates' access to these devices presents a risk to public safety and security, and is contrary to correctional and rehabilitative goals; and
WHEREAS these devices can provide inmates with unrestricted and unmonitored access to the Internet, text messaging, and electronic mail; and
WHEREAS hundreds of incidents across the country have occurred in which inmates have used these devices to conduct criminal or gang activities or to victimize law-abiding people; and
WHEREAS controlling inmates' access to these devices is challenging because 1) the CDCR lacks airport-style security screening for people who enter prisons and instituting it could be costly at a time when the state is facing severe budget restrictions; 2) the CDCR is one of the largest prison systems in the world, and there are hundreds of entry points through which these devices can be smuggled; and 3) federal law prohibits blocking or jamming all cellular-device transmissions originating inside correctional facilities; and
WHEREAS strong measures must nonetheless be taken immediately to ensure the safety of the public and the secure operations of California prisons; and
WHEREAS these measures should include improving the thoroughness by which people entering prisons are searched, increasing the number of random searches of inmates' cells, penalizing prisoners who are caught with a contraband device, and increasing the use of canines and state-of-the-art technology to find contraband devices; and
WHEREAS these measures should also include implementing a system to intercept and block prisoners' unauthorized cellular transmissions in a way that complies with federal law by not interfering with authorized wireless devices, radios, and other emergency response communications.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, in accordance with the authority vested in me by the Constitution and statutes of the State of California, do hereby issue the following orders to become effective immediately:
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the CDCR use existing budget resources and pursue all available grants to conduct more thorough searches of people who enter prisons; to increase the number of random searches of inmates' cells, prison property, and employees; to increase penalties for inmates in possession of contraband devices and anyone who illegally provides contraband devices to inmates; and to increase the use of canines and state-of-the-art technology to find and confiscate contraband cellular devices.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the CDCR develop and deploy a cost-efficient system to interrupt unauthorized cellular transmissions at California's prisons in a manner consistent with federal law.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Department of General Services (DGS) and the California Technology Agency collaborate and cooperate with the CDCR to accelerate the approval process for the procurement of a system to interrupt unauthorized cellular transmissions, and that the DGS further facilitate the expedited purchase by the CDCR of any other necessary materials, equipment and services to comply with the directives of this Executive Order.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the CDCR immediately review and prepare an analysis of any barriers to implementing airport-style security screening at all points of entry to California's correctional institutions, and that this analysis be submitted to the Governor's Office by December 31, 2011.
This Order is not intended to, and does not, create any rights or benefits, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity, against the State of California, its agencies, departments, entities, officers, employees, or any other person.
I FURTHER DIRECT that as soon as hereafter possible, this Order be filed in the Office of the Secretary of State and that widespread publicity and notice be given to this Order.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 6th day of October 2011.
EDMUND G. BROWN JR.
Governor of California