There is so much positive momentum in our Department. The Governor, the Legislature, the public and even our critics are taking notice.
The stigma of mental illness is as pervasive in our prisons as it is in our communities. In the macho prison environment, where weakness equals vulnerability, those with mental illness are among the most stereotyped by other inmates and, unfortunately, by some staff as well.
On May 1, 2017, the first phase of the historic Proposition 57 regulations will begin. On that date, all inmates, with the exception of the condemned and those serving life without parole, will begin earning good-conduct credit. Allowing inmates to earn credits towards parole suitability or earlier release gives them hope where previously they had none. The responsibility for earning credits is solidly placed on the individual inmate. The remaining phases of Proposition 57 will be implemented this summer. While there are many good reasons to make these changes, the most important to me is the enhancement to the safety of our staff and the citizens of California.
Last month, I briefed you on the significant changes coming with the approval by voters of Proposition 57. I’d like to thank staff – both at Headquarters and in the field − for their hard work in developing regulations, modifying our IT systems, developing complex training programs, and helping set and meet an aggressive schedule to roll out this landmark reform. All this work will materialize in the coming months and will positively impact everybody at CDCR, both staff and inmates. A fundamental element of Proposition 57 is the realization that we are in the best position to know how individual inmates are programming and whether they are showing sustained positive behavior. Proposition 57 is a common sense reform that brings us closer to the days of indeterminate sentencing by placing the responsibility on the inmate to remain disciplinary free and to be actively programming.
I hope that you and your families all had a safe and happy holiday season. We should all be proud of the positive changes at CDCR that we created together last year. While still many challenges remain, the staff of this Department has stepped up in very many ways. I’m so appreciative of all the hard work and dedication that you all display every day.
I know there are a lot of questions and uncertainties about the November 8 election results, especially relating to Proposition 57 – The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016. This constitutional amendment was overwhelmingly approved by California voters and will have significant impacts. And while I can relate to feelings of apprehension when it comes to change, I do believe – as with so much of the change to the state’s criminal justice system in the last five years – we will work through it together and we will recognize the opportunities it creates. As a law enforcement agency, there is no place for political rhetoric or displays within our prisons or anywhere in our facilities and we must maintain our professionalism.