Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Daily Corrections Clips


Lauryn Schroeder, San Diego Union Tribune

A 33-year-old escapee from a state prison in Chino was arrested in Encinitas on Monday evening, less than 24 hours after he was discovered missing.

Michael Martin Garrett was found just after 6 p.m. at a Vons grocery store on Santa Fe Drive just west of Interstate 5, according to a news release from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Agents with the department’s Special Service Unit and Fugitive Apprehension Team tracked Garrett to the store by following “investigative leads,” corrections officials said in the statement.

San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies headed to the store and saw Garrett standing in front of the building. He was arrested without incident.

Authorities discovered Garrett missing from the California Institution for Men about 9:15 p.m. Sunday during an evening inmate count, according to a news release issued Monday morning.

He was sent to state prison from San Diego County last fall to serve a four-year, eight-month sentence for first-degree burglary, vehicle theft, and attempting to evade a peace officer while driving recklessly, according to corrections officials.
Garrett was admitted to the Chino prison — which houses about 3,400 minimum- and maximum-security inmates — in October 2017. He was eligible for parole in October 2019, state records show.

State officials say 99 percent of all offenders who have left an adult institution, camp or community-based program without permission since 1997 have been apprehended.

Kelsey Brugger, Santa Barbara Independent

As rescue crews continued their work, inmates carried a beige-colored safe on a stretcher out of an obliterated Montecito home. Large chunks of the house had already been removed. A homeowner had showed up to the leveled lot to ask firefighters about a safe that was in his attic. An inmate crew managed to find it in the debris field in good condition. The photos and documents inside were dry.

On Saturday afternoon, about 30 men wearing durable orange long-sleeve shirts and orange hardhats used chainsaws to cut through tangled tree branches. Like the firefighters, inmates said they are not used to mudslides — or to digging through debris and using chainsaws to cut tree trunks. Like the firefighters, they work 24 hours on, 24 hours off.

As of this writing, about 570 inmates are working in Montecito, out of 2,338 total personnel. A supervisor from California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) oversees all inmate crews, who came from state prisons throughout the state, a public information officer said. Fire captains give them orders.

A fire captain overseeing an inmate crew on Saturday said their criminal convictions run the gamut. He asked photographers not to take pictures identifying them. He said it could be a security risk for those with gang-related charges. Also, the captain said, some victims complain should they see their perpetrator outdoors.
Asked about his crew’s performance, the fire captain said only, “They’re inmates.” As he trudged through the mud a short distance from his crew, the captain’s boots got stuck for a second in ankle-deep, soppy black mud. The inmates stopped and laughed at him. He laughed too.

Among a nearby crew, one inmate, Jeffery, said he was transported to Montecito two days ago. He is what he called the “swamper,” essentially the foreman. In the last year, Jeffery has been deployed to California wildfires so many times he has lost count. He worked on the Bear Fire in Santa Cruz and about five fires around San Luis Obispo, he said.

But this incident feels very different. “I don’t think what has happened has sunk in yet,” he said. “It is pretty unbelievable to see the devastation.”

Born and raised in Auburn, California, Jeffery said he has been the foreman for about a year. The 40-year-old is serving a six-year prison sentence for assault with a deadly weapon. “Mistakes happen,” he said. He will be out in 60 days. He is looking forward to going home to his two kids, ages 6 and 12. When he gets out, he said, he might apply to work for Cal Fire. (The Santa Barbara Independent agreed not to publish his last name.)

Jeffery described the inmate program as “positive” and “really rewarding.” “They take really good care of us while we are here,” he said. “We all get along really well … It’s always a good feeling to be a part of it.”

He expressed dismay, however, because he feels most people do not understand why inmates are brought in. “A lot of people see us as criminals,” he said. “We came out here to be good in the public’s eye.”

Prisoner Slain in California Was White Supremacist Leader

Don Thompson, Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A prisoner slain by fellow white inmates at a California prison was a founder of Public Enemy Number 1, a white supremacist prison and street gang, law enforcement and watchdog groups confirmed Friday.

Devlin "Gazoo" Stringfellow, 48, helped start the group known as PENI, which grew from the Southern California punk music scene in the 1980s into what the Anti-Defamation League calls a hybrid, racist, skinhead gang.

Stringfellow was stabbed repeatedly in an exercise yard Wednesday by two other prisoners armed with inmate-made weapons, said Lt. L.A. Quinn, a spokesman at California State Prison, Sacramento.

He identified them as Jacob Kober, 29, and Stephen Dunckhurst, 49. No charges have been filed, and experts could not immediately say if they are gang members.

Quinn said officials didn't have a motive.

All members of PENI were previously made members of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, said Matthew Buechner, a former gang investigator with the California corrections department.

Stringfellow was the second high-profile gang leader slain at the maximum security prison east of Sacramento in recent years.

Hugo "Yogi" Pinell, 71, a purported member of the Black Guerrilla Family, was slain in 2015 after he was freed from decades in isolation following a bloody escape attempt at San Quentin State Prison in 1971. Pinell denied gang involvement.

Buechner said Stringfellow had been a target of fellow gang members for years.

"He was a loud mouth and (the Aryan Brotherhood) does not want attention," Buechner said in an email. Its members lure targets into thinking they are safe, "then strike as violently as possible to send a message to enemies and membership to stay in line."

Stringfellow had been in and out of prison repeatedly since 1991, mostly on drug and weapons charges with added time for engaging in gang activity. He was set to be released in 2020 after completing a six-year sentence on drug, weapons and assault charges.

His attorney in that case, Nima Farhadi of the Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office, did not return telephone messages Friday.

Kober is serving a life sentence for a 2012 Alameda County murder. Dunckhurst was initially serving a three-year term for a Shasta County robbery but now has a life sentence for vehicle theft and a weapons conviction.

Internal gang slayings are not uncommon, said Joanna Mendelson, a senior investigative researcher with the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism who was among those identifying Stringfellow as a PENI founder.

"The movement is characterized by paranoia, infighting and violence both directed against enemies as well as even their own members," she said in an email. "Putting a hit on their own 'brothers' is not uncommon."


Kern judge's innovative solution to dealing with dangerous inmates

IKE DODSON California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

DELANO — D. Arzate, a convicted murderer serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, has a history of aggression in prison, but his appearance in Kern County Prison Court added little tension to arraignment proceedings Oct. 16.
It helps that the Pelican Bay State Prison inmate never stepped outside the facility’s secure perimeter, 600 miles away in Crescent City.

Thanks to an innovative program facilitated by Kern County Superior Court Judge David Wolf, prisoners who pose a serious risk to the community don’t need to exhaust the resources of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation when they appear live in court, which is now possible via streaming video at their respective institutions.

The program is specifically available for inmates who committed a crime while institutionalized in Kern County, and it’s a feature showcased only during arraignments ― the brief pre-hearing court appearance when inmates’ charges are read, future court dates are established, inmate counsel is assigned and bail is set.

Thanks to Kern County Prison Court, the state can alleviate the public safety risk of an inmate traveling up to 1,200 miles for a brief courtroom procedure. The whole session takes about 10 to 15 minutes and during the proceedings inmates do not enter into guilty pleas or accept a settlement with the District Attorney’s office. Each institution is highly encouraged to use the video conferencing equipment to facilitate this process where possible.

“Without teamwork from all the different agencies, it would all fall apart,” Wolf said.
It’s also thrifty. When you consider the fuel, vehicle maintenance, and regular/overtime hours, video arraignments are an economical answer to expediting a short court appearance, especially when inmates are coming from as far away as Crescent City.

The local savings has been ongoing in Delano for several years, but in July, video arraignments expanded to out-of-county CDCR inmates who committed their crimes in Kern County before transferring out of the area. So California’s one-and-only prison court can already attribute out-of-county savings to the program.
And the Delano judge is just one part of the team that makes this possible.

“Without teamwork from all the different agencies, it would all fall apart,” Wolf said. “It takes the sheriff, CDCR, the wardens, the DA’s office, the court staff ― everybody working together to make this happen."

Kern County Prison Court hosts hearings for inmates from California City Correctional Facility, California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi, Kern Valley State Prison in Delano, North Kern State Prison in Delano, Wasco State Prison and community correctional facilities in McFarland, Shafter, Delano and Taft.

The concentration of area correctional facilities makes prison court in Delano essential to the county and CDCR’s transportation staff.

Wolf likes to remind his staff that they serve an inmate population roughly the size of McFarland (population 19,044), a town about seven miles south of Delano on Highway 99.

The Delano facility has grown via renovation in 2017, and is much more than a courtroom. The blueprint now includes 21 holding cells, a public viewing area behind bullet-proof glass, private interview rooms, a “fishbowl” viewing room for inmates to interact with proceedings and a control booth. The facility has come a long way from staging inmates in rows of vans in the property parking lot, back in 2011.

The video arraignments have been a feature of Kern County Prison Court for a few years, but July’s out-of-county expansion has elevated the program efficiencies and safety achievements. Wolf credits the success to great relationships between partners. His vital connection to CDCR is Correctional Officer Rafael Torres, who is assigned to Kern County Prison Court. Wolf spoke highly of Officer Torres and the dependability of institutions that work with court staff to facilitate the streaming video.

It’s Torres who locks in the schedule of video arraignments with the corresponding facility.

“A warden told me that when it comes to video arraignments, the cost-savings is like the icing on a cake, but the safety and security of doing that in prison is the cake itself,” Torres said. “Every time we don’t have to transport an inmate, we are contributing to public safety. It also saves the officers a long trip for a short arraignment.”

Torres and court staff work together to schedule the video arraignments four weeks prior to their digital appearance in Delano. He said all 35 of California’s adult institutions have the capability to participate.

Aside from the regular appearances by Kern County defendants, recent arraignments included inmates from Vacaville, Sacramento, Stockton, Salinas, San Luis Obispo, Corcoran, Chowchilla, Tehachapi, Pleasant Valley, Susanville and, of course, Pelican Bay.

Since July, nearly 70 percent of the arraignments at Kern County Prison Court have happened on live video. It’s at Pelican Bay, about 10 miles south of the Oregon border, where video arraignments are so dramatically beneficial. Until July, to circumvent an arraignment in Kern County, CDCR transportation staff had to embark on a trip up to four days long from Crescent City to Delano and back, complete with overnight stays at correctional facilities along the way. The grueling travel, even just one-way, is nearly the equivalent of a trek from West Virginia to Kansas. And it’s not easy on inmates either. Wolf and Torres said inmates prefer to not interrupt their programing with burdensome travel for a short hearing. Inmate counsel agrees.

“Overall, the video arraignments make it a more humane way to treat our clients without the feeling that they’re a number,” said Christina Matias, supervisor of the Kern County Public Defender’s Office. “Instead of driving six or 10 hours or more in a day, the client is able to do the arraignment in the prison where he or she is housed, which means they are able to program in their facility.

“With the video arraignments or video sentencing, the client is able to stay at their prison and continue with their medical regimen. All in all, it’s a win-win for both sides.”

Wolf was the inspiration for out-of-county video arraignments, and it was a plan put into action after Sara Danville, Kern County supervising deputy district attorney, proposed it at CDCR’s Prison Crime Council meeting.
Danville was present during the Oct. 16 arraignments and offered her insight into the video feature.
“Now that we have implemented it, I am even further convinced of the value of this program,” she said. “Every time we can handle a hearing through video, we not only save incredible monetary resources, but we avoid a potential safety risk.”

Those sentiments are echoed by CDCR’s Director of the Division of Adult Institutions, Kathleen Allison, who has seen the safety and transportation benefits happen in real time.

“When accounting for the cost of fuel, wear and tear on state vehicles, overtime for correctional staff, and safety and security of both correctional staff and inmates, the benefit of conducting a video arraignment at the inmate’s home institution can result in significant reduction of transportation costs and is also optimal for overall public safety,” Allison said.

CDCR’s Integrated Communications Unit of Enterprise Information Services was on the operational ground floor of the project.

“We worked with Kern County IT staff to identify a solution that would meet their needs as well as be compatible with our enterprise system,” EIS Project Manager Sylvia R. Dumalig said. “After Kern County procured and installed their equipment, our staff assisted with some configuration and firewall changes as well as testing to ensure successful operation.”

Thanks to EIS, the operation runs smoothly in Delano. Torres arranges video calls to the institution, and custody staff at the corresponding institutions have inmates ready to appear before the court on a large television inside the courtroom.

“Overall, the video arraignments make it a more humane way to treat our clients without the feeling that they’re a number,” said Christina Matias, supervisor of the Kern County Public Defender’s Office.

Wolf introduces the counsel and confirms that inmates are both comfortable with the format and cognizant of the process. He deftly navigates through the proceedings and arranges future in-court appearances for the charges that spawned the day’s arraignment. The video feature doesn’t change how the arraignment functions.

It’s an efficient system and Wolf, specifically designated for prison court hearings, is a master of it. He’s directed Kern County toward an innovative future in prison litigation and he’s been a gracious host to his partners.

“I’m really grateful that the presiding judge trusted me with this assignment and is supporting us so that we can do this,” Wolf said. “I think it’s wonderful when you see everyone from county, city, state, all these agencies working together to save our taxpayers money and promote public safety.

“As giant bureaucracies, we really have not caught up with all the things we can do with technology, and I really feel like the sky is the limit.”

Ike Dodson is the public information officer in the Office of Public and Employee Communications at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Fox26 News

COALINGA, Calif. (FOX26) — Coalinga State Hospital is currently under lockdown following a protest by patients.

The protests started over the weekend.

According to the California Department of State Hospitals Public Information Officer, the patients are reportedly protesting new restrictions on electronic devices that are intended to prevent contraband from entering the hospital.

Ken August said "Coalinga State Hospital remains under lockdown following a weekend protest by patients. Approximately six windows were broken, some locks were jammed and some toilets were clogged by patients. No injuries have been reported. Additional police and other staff are on duty." State Hospitals Public Information Officer.

Hospital management has brought on additional police officers and more are on standby if needed. The hospital's visitors center is closed until further notice.

FOX26 received at least three emails stating the same exact information. "At least 60 windows have been broken in what is near riot-like conditions in the hospital. The hospital police (Department of Police Services) put into an action a heavily-armored task force to go in and subdue certain patients earlier today."

The patients are not being permitted to walk around, communicate with their attorneys or families (all phones have been removed from the patient areas), and all inquiries to the main switchboard are being deflected until Tuesday morning. No hot meals are being served, no disposable razors are being handed out, and several of the units are without water.

Trash litters the hallways, liquids have been thrown against walls, and door locks have been jammed. Toilets have been clogged and sewage was overflowing in at least one residential unit early Sunday.

Civilian staff can't walk around units without a police escort because they fear for their safety.

All this is due to an upcoming (in the next 10-14 days) crackdown on "patient property." None of these accusations have been confirmed by the hospital.

According to the state hospital's website, Coalinga is a 1,500-bed psychiatric hospital for repeat sexual offenders who have completed their prison sentence and have been committed for extended treatment. The maximum-security facility combines internal and external security with community oversight to meet the community's needs.The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is responsible for external security. Working in close cooperation with the Department of State Hospitals (DSH) staff, Correctional Officers operate sallyports to control entry and exit from the facility, observation towers, and perimeter patrols.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Daily Corrections Clips



"Hello, I'm Johnny Cash." Those words were uttered to wild applause in the cafeteria of Folsom Prison, a maximum security facility northeast of Sacramento, Calif. on Jan. 13, 1968.

Johnny Cash played a lot of prison concerts during his career, though he never did hard time himself. His daughter Tara Cash Schwoebel says her father's interest in prisons went back to his days serving in the U.S. Air Force in Germany in the early 1950s. That's when he saw the noir crime drama Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison.


Bay City News Service

A man who's serving a term of 80 years to life for murdering a former friend on a Livermore golf course in 2012 is among two inmates suspected in the slaying of a fellow inmate at the Folsom state prison, California Department of Corrections officials said today.

Jacob Kober, 29, of Livermore, is suspected in the death of inmate Devlin Stringfellow, 48, who was assaulted at about 2:15 p.m. Wednesday in an exercise yard at the maximum security prison east of Sacramento.


Alex Dobuzinskis, Reuters

MONTECITO, Calif. (Reuters) - Emergency officials in southern California said on Friday they were looking for five people missing and feared dead or trapped by deadly mudslides and have expanded the search area.

At least 17 people have died and officials warned that finding more survivors in the thick brown mud was becoming unlikely.

The new figure of five missing compared with the 43 people listed last night as unaccounted for by the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office, according to a spokesman for the office, who declined to elaborate on the reason for the sharply lower number.

Mike Luery, KCRA

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) — Petition gatherers hit the streets of Sacramento on Thursday, trying to collect enough signatures for a new ballot measure that gets tough on crime.

"In current law, rape by intoxication and rape of an unconscious person and a slew of other crimes are not considered violent for our state," said Beth Hassett, executive director of WEAVE, or Woman Escaping a Violent Environment.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Daily Corrections Clips


Thaddeus Miller, Merced Sun-Star

Four former or current inmates of the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla say they were victims of sexual humiliation, harassment and even threats of rape, among other abusive treatment, because of their gender identities, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court.

A transgender man, a gender non-conforming person and two female prisoners who identify as queer have filed a joint lawsuit against the state and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. All four are Hispanic.


William A Noguera committed a brutal murder and has spent almost 30 years waiting for execution but in a new book, the artist explains how painting changed his life
Adam Gabbatt, The Guardian

William A Noguera has spent almost 30 years on death row. He lives alone in a tiny cell in San Quentin prison, California. The previous execution in the state was in 2006, but Noguera lives with his death sentence hanging over him every day.

But against that backdrop, Noguera has become an internationally recognized artist, his hyper-realistic compositions and abstract paintings exhibited in Paris, New York and London.


Daily Press

APPLE VALLEY — Authorities apprehended a state convict who walked away from an alternative custody program Monday night.

Manuel Solis, 36, was apprehended Monday night at his sister’s home in Apple Valley, according to a news release from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Daily Corrections Clips


The Associated Press

On a spring day in 1994, a retired German couple who'd traveled to California to see their daughter were sightseeing in the San Jacinto Mountains when they were robbed and shot by three young men. Gisela Pfleger, 64, died in the attack. Her husband, 62-year-old Klaus, was severely injured.

One of the assailants pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 years to life. The two others received life with no chance for release, and the Pfleger family believed justice had been done. Then a U.S. Supreme Court ruling changed things.

Almost two years ago now, the high court issued a decision that made more than 2,000 inmates serving life without parole for crimes committed as juveniles eligible for possible resentencing and release. In that ruling and others , the court said that mandatory life-without-parole sentences are unconstitutionally cruel and unusual for offenders under 18 and that all but the rare irredeemable offender should have a chance at parole. The justices pointed to brain science research that finds teens lack impulse control and may engage in reckless behavior without fully understanding the consequences.


Don Thompson, The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Correctional Officer Scott Jones kissed his wife goodbye on July 8, 2011, and headed off to a maximum-security prison in the remote high desert of northeastern California. He never came home. Jones' body was found a day later, along with a note explaining why the 36-year-old took his own life: "The job made me do it."
Suicide is distressingly common among current and former California prison employees. The guards' union counts 96 confirmed or suspected suicides among current and retired members between 1999 and 2015.

The public thinks criminals deserve the sexual abuse they suffer while incarcerated, and there’s a persistent belief that they do not have rights.
Josephine Yurcaba, Rewire

Rodney Smith said the two men who cornered him on his first day in a Louisiana jail a decade ago were big. At age 23, he had been arrested for check fraud earlier that day. He recalled them towering over him. He tried to stand up, but one of them pushed him down. He pleaded with his eyes to the other men in the cell, but they either turned their backs or continued watching silently. When the first man exposed his genitals to Smith and demanded Smith perform oral sex on him, Smith said he did it because he just wanted to be left alone. But then more men approached him and demanded the same, one after the other.

“I blacked out, in a sense. I’m crying in my mind the whole time, but I’m not literally, bawling crying. But I know I’m tearing up, because I don’t want to do this, and I don’t want to be part of this. But what do I do in that situation?” Smith, who is using a pseudonym for safety reasons, told Rewire in a recent phone interview. A jail guard didn’t walk by the cell until after the assaults stopped, he said.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Daily Corrections Clips


Don Thompson, The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The fight over the body and possessions of apocalyptic cult leader Charles Manson has fragmented into at least three camps competing over an estate that could cash in on songs he wrote that were used by The Beach Boys and Guns N' Roses.

Manson, 83, died in November nearly a half-century after he orchestrated the 1969 killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and eight other people.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge on Monday will try to sort out at least two conflicting wills and claims by a purported son, grandson and pen pal who all seek control of an estate that includes commercial rights to his name, image and mementos that can fetch thousands of dollars from "murderabilia" collectors.

Sandra Emerson, The Press Enterprise

The Highland man convicted of murdering a Redlands college student is scheduled to go before the state parole board in May.

Damien Matthew Guerrero, 33, will be considered for parole, after serving 15 years of a 15 years-to-life sentence for the 2003 murder of 18-year-old Kelly Bullwinkle, who was found shot to death in San Timoteo Canyon.

District Attorney Mike Ramos, who knew Bullwinkle and her family, said they will be prepared for the hearing, scheduled for 11:30 a.m. May 2 at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Blythe.


Ryan McCarthy, Daily Republic

FAIRFIELD — A psychologist at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville contends a “homophobic and transphobic environment” exists at the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and that her advocacy for transgender prisoners led to her demotion.

Lori Jespersen, in the Thursday filing in Solano County Superior Court, said she faced retaliation for filing complaints about unlawful human rights violations involving transgender and gay prisoners.

“CDCR and its employees have actively degraded and dehumanized its LGBTQ community by jeopardizing their privacy and safety, verbally assaulting and endangering gay and transgender patients and interacting with LGBTQ patients and employees in blatantly discriminatory and hostile ways,” according to the lawsuit.

Molly Oak, KVUE

ROUND ROCK, TEXAS - Terry Allen Miles -- the 44-year-old man who is suspected of abducting two Round Rock, Texas girls who were found safe in Colorado days after their mother was found dead -- is a person of interest in a 2014 Louisiana homicide, according to a sheriff's office there.

Round Rock police began searching for the two children in relation to the suspicious death of their mother, Tonya Bates, on New Year's Eve. They were found safe Wednesday night in Colorado and Miles was detained.


Gloria Neumeier, Marin Independent Journal

There must have been 40 incarcerated men at the San Quentin Christmas party, crammed into a room usually used as a study hall. The noise of the talk and the music was overwhelming.

The big attraction was the food, which for this special night the inmates were allowed to prepare. It was part of a celebration sponsored by the program called “Free to Succeed.”