The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Saturday, February 07, 2004

Prisons: Arnie decides to take a step in the right direction after all

Some worrying signs last time we looked (February 3) that Governor Schwarzenegger was going to falter: he was planning to cut the budget of the prisons watchdog agency, and curb its independence; and he'd already sacked its acting head.

Now, it seems, Arnie has had second thoughts: the Office of the Inspector General will stay independent and get its budget increased, not cut (San Francisco Chronicle February 7).

Moreover he's asked U.S. Eastern District Attorney McGregor Scott to investigate the Folsom Prison riot of 2002.

This, I suspect, is the best news of all; the record of both Pete Wilson and Gray Davis was subservience to the Octopus of the 21st century, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. No action by state agencies against this pervasive conspiracy would have credibility: only the attentions of the FBI are likely to have any chance of achieving results.

The CCPOA's resident comedian, Lance Corcoran, keeps the gags flowing: the San Jose Mercury News says he
said he welcomed the administration's announcement that the inspector general's office would remain independent, and suggested it should be given greater authority to investigate.

"We're hopeful that some teeth may be given to do more than just recommend and audit,'' he said. Corcoran also urged the administration to do a clean sweep of the current office and hire new employees who have not worked inside the prison system.

Always great craic with Lance. Always cracks me up, anyway.

Meanwhile State Senators Jackie Speier and Gloria Romero are planning legislation to beef up the OIG.

Very early days: there are a whole bunch of legislators who will not be happy at Arnold's rocking the boat: they, with Wilson and Davis, have been going along with the CCPOA for ten years now, and very profitable it's been for both sides. He must be getting calls already.

I'm not keeping up with doings in Sacramento - but I'm fairly clear that Arnie will be needing the goodwill of legislators of both parties to do anything much as Governor. The pressure on him one can expect to grow.

And the CCPOA? When it comes to leverage, they're spoilt for choice. Threaten the legislators' handouts, natch. But that's not where its real power lies. It's the union racket to end them all: teamsters can disrupt things by leaving their rigs in inconvenient places. But only the CCPOA can cause a prison riot. As many as it takes, in fact.

Perhaps capo Mike Jimenez has already made the call to Arnie: how concerned he is about security issues: how some rookie guards have been getting very careless with keys...

Will Arnie manage to terminate Jimenez and his fellow gangsters? Does he even want to? After all, Californians seem quite happy to have their state in the pocket of organised crime. They know all about CCPOA corruption of state politics - every California paper you've heard of has exposés out the wazoo on the subject. Yet they regularly vote Mike's punks into legislative and executive office.

Perhaps, Schwarzenegger will conclude, Californians and the CCPOA deserve each other.

Ninth Beatitude, as ever.


Whilst the URL is to hand: a 2002 piece self-explanatorily entitled Indians, Teachers, and Prison Guards Spent Their Way to Power in Sacramento gives a flavour of what's gone on. It's a teaser for a book, so deliberately unsatisfying.

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