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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Thursday, May 27, 2004

The California prisons racket: like the poor, still with us

Monumentally depressing, apparently incapable of remedy and of interest to very few: no wonder I've been giving the topic a rest!

But TalkLeft flagged a piece in the Public Defender Dude blog giving a view from close to the centre of the action.

The anonymous PDD explains a particular element of the corruption that the California Correctional Peace Officers Association have wrought on body politic of the state: a compliant judiciary.

Apparently, back in 1986, three members of the Supreme Court were winkled out for their opposition to the death penalty. The lesson was learnt:
Courts in states like Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and other deep south states used to affirm an abnormally high rate of death sentences, something like 60-70%. California's affirmance rate is in the high 90s.

And a similar approach is taken to lesser offences:
Courts of Appeal do the same thing, upholding verdicts that are clearly wrong as a matter of fact and law just to ensure that people do not get out of jail.

The piece links a useful - equally depressing - article in the LA Times (May 24) which sheds further light on the MO of the CCPOA in maintaining their iron grip on the prisons.

(As I've said before, there has been no shortage of investigative pieces from the big Golden State papers on the iniquities of the system: it's just that nothing much has been done on the strength of them.)

In the spotlight is the criminal giveaway contract that CCPOA punk Gray Davis signed with his masters back in 2002.

Under which, for example,
the union - not wardens - [fills] 70% of the jobs involving the custody of inmates.

Resident CCPOA comedian Lance Corcoran is his usual jovial self:
Years ago, if you were a union activist, the warden would send you to Siberia.

He knew he didn't need to finish the thought...

There are other dysfunctional (ie, functional for the benefit of the CCPOA) elements - for instance,
...supervisors do not have collective bargaining rights, and their salaries have not kept pace with those of the officers. Officers with high seniority can make as much, or more, money than their immediate superiors.

Not to mention a sick leave regime where
under the 2002 contract, the department stopped requiring a doctor's note from officers who showed a pattern of abuse, such as calling in sick before scheduled days off.

The LAT piece does say that
a group of senators announced last week that it would block union members' raises this year unless they renegotiate
the 2002 contract. One to follow up in due course.

PDD says of the CCPOA
...I am more scared of them than I am of anyone else, because if, God forbid, I ever got into their sights as someone they wanted to get, they could get me. Have me put into prison for some trumped up reason, and they can guarantee that you never walk out alive. Their power makes Abu Ghraib look tame by comparison.

You think that's hysterical? I have a dozen or more pieces in the last nine months or so (search on CCPOA) to change your mind...

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