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Calif. Proposes Returning High-Risk Prison Gang Members to General Population

March 13, 2012  | 

California corrections officials have floated a plan that would allow gang members living in high-security housing units to return to the general population as a reward for good behavior.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) outlined its new policy in a 40-page report, "Security Threat Group Prevention, Identification and Management Strategy." The report, first proposed in 2007, was released on March 9.

Under the new policy, gang members assigned to a Security Housing Unit (SHU) can work their way back to the general population by "demonstrating a willingness and commitment to discontinue gang activity," the report states. The step-down process can take 1-2 years.

California houses roughly 4,000 inmates in the SHU. Once there, inmates are restricted to their cells for 22 1/2 hours a day, allowed little contact with families, and no phone calls, reports KPCC.

Inmates serve six years in the SHU, unless they "debrief" by disassociating themselves with the gang and providing information about gang activity to law enforcement. Under the new program, an inmate could leave the SHU in four years for the less-restrictive "sensitive needs yard" or general population.

If the policy were implemented, corrections officials would "capitulate to their (gang members') wants and needs," said Richard Valdemar, POLICE Magazine's gang expert.

The state currently uses 13 criteria to determine if a prison gang member merits isolation in the SHU. To determine which inmates to assign to the SHU, the CDCR holds hearings to assign inmates with labels such as gang leaders or "associates" based on self admission, tattoos, their associations, crime partners, and other criteria. Also, inmates who present a danger to corrections staff are assigned to the unit.

Members of the Aryan Brotherhood, Black Guerilla Family, Mexican Mafia, Nazi Low Riders, Northern Structure, Nuestra Familia, and Texas Syndicate are considered higher threat, while more subservient gangs include Bloods, Crips, Norteños, Sureños, White Supremacist, and 2-5s.

In July, SHU inmates staged a hunger strike in an attempt to change the restrictive policies.

The CDCR's late-2011 realignment directive to return almost 40,000 state inmates to county jails has eased overcrowding and provided the department "more housing options to support this effort," according to the report.

By Paul Clinton


California's 'Realignment' Toward Higher Crime

Comments (13)

Displaying 1 - 13 of 13

walkman1677 @ 3/13/2012 7:52 PM

It is also known as "Behavior Based SHU". The same thing the Fed Prison System uses. It doesn't work, the gang members go to the SHU..lie low, come back out and go right back to work. The most useful tool that has been used against prison gang is the "short corridor" at PBSP. The new program will let fully validated gang members of the EME, NF, AB, BGF....back on to prison mainlines if they can behave for a set amount of time. Get ready for more violence both in and out of custody.

[email protected] @ 3/13/2012 8:21 PM

Hey, well your at it why not make sure they have cell 'phones to make it easier to "do biz" once they return to the gang? But, in Calif. I guess it's the norm. Wouldn't want to inconvenience the felons now, would we?

parolecop @ 3/13/2012 8:22 PM

Trading good behavior for less restrictions never works with high risk inmates. The natural human assumption is that real and permanent behavior change has occurred, and this change will last forever. However, once these guys work their way into SHU, they have already had about ten too many chances.

michael @ 3/13/2012 8:57 PM

This is a bunch of crap for Ca. I think the state needs to get some military tents and let these scumbags live in them.........All of these animals are in jail for a reason......this state has become so liberal it turns my stomach.
It's not like these are low level offenders.......these are the real bad guys. Thanks Gov. are doing a great job. The Feds are also screwed up by their stupid mandates they have placed on the state, who really gives a sh-- about how full the jails are.....we don't want them back on the street. It is just Disgusting........

WES @ 3/13/2012 11:13 PM

This is one Dumb idea. It wont work and all these guys will go right back to what they were doing before they were sent to the SHU. California Prisons will have more Violence than ever. If you dont believe it, sit back and watch.

DEADMAN @ 3/14/2012 2:55 AM

Don't tell me,the corrections officers used to be gang members and they came up with this lame idea.

Dave @ 3/14/2012 10:54 AM

Hunger strike?? Should've let them gang banging scumbags starve to death!!

The Jailer @ 3/14/2012 12:38 PM

Like a merry-go-round, it looks like we've been here before in California where the emphasis continues to swing from punishment to rehabilitaion back to punishment and now? We are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past if we revert to policies that didn't work in the past. Why on earth would we make it easier for the hardcore element to re-intergrate into the population and infect the main lines worse than they already are? Groups like La EME are already enjoying relative successes (from their SHU cells) and being indicted for Racketeering from these high security units. Do we really want this element "running the show" from the General Pop?

Think, guys. Use your God-given brains.

Dan @ 3/15/2012 11:54 PM

Let them go back - they will end up killing a couple of more burnt out gang members and end up right back in SHU were it all started. If California doesn't want to implement a Capital Punishment process, let the gang members do themselves in - compliments of your smarty pants CDCR Executives.

Fed Cop @ 3/20/2012 8:15 AM

I'm good with it. Nortenos share the yard and cells with Sorenos, Hells Angels share the yard and cells with Outlaws, MS-13 share the yard and cells with any other gang. Problems solved. It will reduce the prison population, and Jerry Brown can show he's a fiscal conservative by saving the state money.

[email protected] @ 3/22/2012 9:13 PM

Yo Fed Cop, GREAT IDEA!! Just think of all the space & money saved as well as no more DOC Officers in the middle! Think we can get it OK'd??

johnfreedom @ 6/25/2012 11:08 AM

Hey why not save the state and federal governments millions of dollars and just execute any and all SHU inmates and or validated gang members.Hell why not just dish out a death sentence for any convicted felon.One bullet for each felons head would be much cheaper than the current costs of housing,feeding and securing these losers and animals.Maybe Im sounding a bit harsh so Ill give you the other option.Sooner or later Most of these people are going to be released and the ones that dont see the streets again will corrupt god only knows how many other younger criminals.We need to fix this situation cause my opionon is we have a huge backup of crap that needs to be flushed or fixed before we all end up in a huge s***Y mess

Gang Guy 1 @ 9/22/2012 5:33 PM

Sorry everyone, but this terrible change is coming soon. That is what happens when you have an Attorney running CDCR and he appoints retired annuitants that have no vested interest in the Department and the Employees they are putting at great risk, in charge of making changes. When experts proposed modifications to the present policy, these same annuitants threw them away for their own ideas. They do NOT understand gangs and do not care about putting employees at risk. Shame on them! Be careful everyone, Hubbard and her cronies are throwing away years of great work by every gang investigator in the State of California!!

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