(Note: CDCR submitted the following letter to the Sacramento Bee to rebut an opinion piece published on August 15 calling for more media access to inmates (http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/15/4726261/reporters-need-transparent-and.html). The letter was submitted by Deputy Press Secretary Terry Thornton.)
A recent editorial inaccurately portrays the media’s access to California prisons and inmates. The facts and recent stories from major news organizations show that reporters have easy access to inmates and to prisons.
For instance, the Stockton Record recently published stories based on interviews with a serial killer on death row. The reporter gained access by following the same visitor guidelines as any family member. Univision just aired a two-part series about conditions in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison. In the past few months, numerous other reporters, including one from the New York Times, have visited Pelican Bay.
To say media access is prohibited or even limited by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is flat out wrong.
Ironically, the author of the opinion piece published in The Bee frequently has been given access to California prisons. The fact that she has chosen not to visit specific inmates as a normal visitor does not mean she or the media has no access.
CDCR strongly encourages reporters to visit state prisons to see firsthand the conditions inmates face daily. They are likely to see a well-run operation with inmates treated fairly and respectfully. This is not the California prison system of decades ago.
By Prison inmate firefighters from the Delta Conservation Camp in Solano County are a common sight in wine country. Under CalFire supervision, they fight fires throughout the North Bay and tackle brush-clearing projects in remote corners of Napa County.
By Paige St. John, Los Angeles Times-- Under a thick cover of smoke, firefighters and inmate crews chased the stubborn Ponderosa fire into a blind canyon Thursday and declared victory over it, even as a string of almost half a dozen other wildfires forced Northern California residents from their homes.
By Brad Branan, Sacramento Bee-- Some Sacramento County leaders worry that mental health and probation services are underfunded in a budget approved Thursday to handle criminal offenders sent to counties under a recent state law.
By Kaci Poor, The Times-Standard-- With local petty crime arrests soaring past last year's average, Eureka Police Chief Murl Harpham points to the state's public safety realignment plan.