So Why is California Going Broke?

Terry B. Davis


The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is broken, and no one is trying to fix it. Between the California politicians, the director(s) of the Department of Corrections, the courts, the lawyers, the special administrator(s), and special interests, it will not be fixed anytime soon.

The prison system has been under assault by the Politicians, who are influenced by the special interest groups, and the courts and lawyers are used to intimidate the Governor, and the Director(s). This was made clear in the Valdivia decision. The Valdivia decision on its surface, to the ordinary person would seem valid. On a closer look it is merely a way to release prisoners and parolees, by instituting costly and unnecessary procedures and rights that honest law abiding are not entitled too. A parole hearing, the process that is used to either release or not to release dangerous inmates from prison, and the parole revocation hearing that is used to adjudicate parole violations, and either return the parolee to custody for a certain period of time, anywhere from several weeks to a year, or release them back into the community. These hearing are referred to as administrative hearings, the same type of hearing you, a law abiding citizen would receive in a traffic court for driving infractions.

To fully understand the changes and increase in costs to the tax payer, you need to understand the system that was in place prior to the Valdivia decision, and the abuses that led to its implementation. Originally, a parolee would be returned to custody by a parole agent for a violation of his/her conditions of parole. The parole agent would become aware of a possible parole violation by either and individual reporting it directly to the agent, or by Police Officers that had observed a parole violation, or had arrested or cited a parolee for a violation of law. The parole agent would investigate the allegation and then take this information to his supervisor. The agent would give the supervisor a brief overview of the parolee's criminal history, his/her behavior, good and bad, since their release from custody to parole. The agent would then inform the supervisor of the information received and the results of his investigation, and his recommendation. The supervisor would then make a decision to either, document the violation and retain the parolee on parole, or to take or keep the parolee in custody, complete a violation report, and forward it to the Board of Prison Hearings. The parolee was to have a hearing with-in 35 days in Northern California and 45 days in Southern California. In many cases these time frames were not met and the then, Board of Parole hearings commissioners usually ignored the violations by the Department of Correction of their own policies and procedures. In addition, the Commissioners took little or no notice as to the ability of the parolee to understand the violation and their ability to defend or speak for themselves during the hearing. At the hearing there was a commissioner, the parole agent and the parolee. The commissioner would have received an original copy of the parole agent's violation report, and the parolee would receive a redacted copy of the violation report, with-in 72 hours of the hearing. The parole agent would also request subpoenas' for individuals needed to testify at the hearing to prove the violation. While the parolee could request witnesses, his request would be reviewed by the Commissioner and either approved as relevant or disapproved as irrelevant. At the hearing the parolee was given the opportunity to give his side of the story and call his witnesses. The commissioner would ask questions to the parolee and his witnesses to clarify their testimony, and in like manor ask the parole agent and his witnesses' questions to clarify the evidence presented. In administrative hearings the rules are different than a criminal case and the level of guilt is a preponderance of the evidence presented 50.001% for a guilty finding, as opposed to a criminal trial of beyond a reasonable doubt. After the hearing the parolee could contest the results thru the administrative procedure known as an inmate appeal, which would go through several levels of review with- in the Board of prison hearings and could eventually, be submitted to the courts. However, due to the time frames involved in this process it was very seldom used, usually the parolee would be released before the process was completed, and as soon as they were released they no longer cared to proceed with their appeal. In some cases the procedures were not followed. Violations reports from the agents were not filed on a timely basis, or not filed at all and the parolee would sit in prison for months and discharged from parole without any documentation of why he was taken into custody, or any type of a hearing, or at least did not receive his hearing with-in the time frames dictated by the policies and procedures. Additionally, many times parolee's were not evaluated as to their ability to understand and defend themselves against the charges. Due to these abuses by the Board of Prison Hearings and the parole department a case made it to the courts.

Before we go into the Valdivia decision you need to understand that the Prison system and the Board of Prison terms are separate from each other, but do have ties that cause interactions. The prisons are under the control of the Director of Corrections and the Board has their director. The prisons and parole have no over site or control over the Board of parole hearings. When the Valdivia case was filed the Department of Corrections basically said, your right the system is flawed and we will correct it, which they did. While the Board of Parole hearings said, it's our system, it works and you can't make us change.

The Department of corrections made the following changes to their administrative hearing process. If an inmate was unable to understand the charges, his rights or present a defense, an officer was assigned to assist the inmate through-out the process to assure he understood the charges, his rights and present his defense during the hearing. If the inmate was locked up, making it impossible for him to interview witnesses, or collect and present evidence in his defense, an investigating officer would be assigned. The investigative officer, unlike the officer assigned to assist the inmate, worked for the hearing officer and would collect evidence to prove or disprove the charges, and document his investigation. A copy of this documentation would be given to the hearing officer and to the inmate. At the beginning of the hearing the Hearing officer would assure, thru prior documentation and the inmates answers, that all rights and due process procedures had been met. The hearing officer was to be an impartial tryer of fact, if the hearing officer had anything to do with the original incident, reports, or even had past negative contact with the inmate, he could not adjudicate the case. If errors were made or time frames not met the hearing officer could reschedule the hearing to assure time frames and procedures were met, dismiss the case due to the violations, or rule that the infractions did not violate the inmate's rights and continue with the hearing. After the hearing the inmate must receive the hearing officers ruling and documentation regarding the hearing. From the time the inmate receives the hearing officers documentation he has a set time frame to file an inmate appear. The courts reviewed the new policies and procedures and approved them.

The Board of Parole Hearings went to court, cost the state large sums of money and lost. The court asked the attorneys representing Valdivia to submit a plan to correct the parole hearings process. Now that was putting the fox in charge of the hen house. Not surprising this is the plan they came up with. Upon placing a parolee in custody, the agent has five working days to complete his report and submit it to his supervisor. In most cases this is an acceptable time frame, but in some cases it is impossible to get a copy of police reports, as the police departments have different time frames, policies and procedures. With that said we will continue, the supervisor has two days to review the violation report and either recommend he be retained in custody and forwarded to the board of parole hearings, or decide to release the parolee from custody, place him in a program, or take other local sanctions such as enrollment in a program, increase anti-narcotic testing, or no sanctions at all. The case is then forwarded to the parole administrator that oversees the office that submitted the report. He can agree with the agent and the supervisor, and refer it to the Board of parole hearings, or disagree, over ride the recommendations of the agent and supervisor and order him released from custody. There is no recourse for the agent or supervisor to contest this action. Once the administrator has referred it to the Board of Parole hearings, a new position was instituted, the case is reviewed again and with input from an attorney assigned the case, the case is rejected and the parolee ordered released or it is again referred to the Board of parole hearings. So far the case can be reject by four different levels, the agent, the agent's direct supervisor, the parole administrator, and the newly created reviewer. This brings up another problem, you have career administrators and want-to-be promoted individuals that can overturn cases and release dangerous parolee's back into the community regardless of facts, but mainly to assist the department in reducing parolee's returned to prison, thereby reducing prison populations. Sounds like politics to me, but that's a different story. The board receives the case, assigns and attorney and must schedule, and hold the parole hearing with-in thirty days of the parolee having been taken into custody. At the hearing you now have the commissioner, parole agent, parolee and the parolee's attorney. This is where it get's interesting, the attorney can contest anything and everything, question all witness's and the agent, contest evidence and throw out case histories that the agent and in some cases the commissioner have no knowledge of. In fact, in one case the attorney convinced the commissioner that a police report was not a legal document, and that a letter from the victim was more legally binding, because in the letter the victim never mentioned that the parolee threatened to kill her, therefore the officers statement in the police report, as to the victim's statement to him, has to be over ruled due to the victims letter never mentioning the parolee's threat, proving it never happened. Now, parole agents are not trained or have the knowledge to perform the role of a prosecutor, but are either required too in the interest of justice, or not and allow a dangerous parolee be returned to the community. I have talked with several commissioners, off the record and they told me that they are under pressure not to return parolee's to custody if possible. So in some or many cases, Commissioners are pressured to grasp at straws to let parolees back onto the streets. You must also remember that commissioners are appointed position and must complete a probationary period. If they fail to do what they are told, they can and will be replaced.

The court, a judge that was once a struggling attorney, accepted and implemented the attorney's recommendations. The cost, attorney's get paid a lump sum to represent the parolee, in the area of $500.00, and in some cases, if the parolee is found guilty, I have seen the attorney give the parolee their business card, tell them they have a good chance to appeal the case and that they would be willing to represent them. Now the parolee cannot pay the attorney for an appeal, so guess who will, the California tax payers. Additionally, the costs for the newly created position, for agents that do all the serving of legal documents, processing and assigning cases, and the administrators to review and recommend dispositions. No wonder the state is going broke and corrections is getting blamed for it.

This is only one area where costs have increased due to the state failing to hold employee's accountable for their actions, politician's, courts and attorney's actively involved in legislation from the courts to push their agenda of reducing the inmate population in prisons and set the ground work for the socialist ideology that the government take care of us all from cradle to grave. They are already active in turning prisons into mental and medical health care systems, as a form of social engineering. How is this going to happen? When the citizens see inmates and parolees being taken care of in all aspects of their lives by the state and they will say, Hey, what about me, I am a law abiding citizen, why doesn't the government give me the same thing they are giving to criminals and thugs?

How about the old, the infirmed, the ill, shouldn't the government take care of them also?

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Comments 13 comments

Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

It's a sad world we live in, Mr. Davis. First of all, it seems that inmates and animals like Shamu have more rights than the rest of us. The private citizen is being taxed to death while the criminals are set for life. It's a system that encourages corruption, rather than correction and reformation. We have to stop punishing the honest and hard working while giving criminals freebies. Excellent hub.

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 6 years ago Author


What article did you read? Regarding the treatment of inmates, it is required by our laws that they are treated humanly.

It would appear that you missed what the article was about.It was about the waste of money with-in the department of corrections, which is draining the states resources.

If you want to talk about rehabilitation, go to hubpage titled California prison refromation plan, this article deals with rehabilitation, and confinment.

With all that said I appriciate your comments.

Someonewhoknowswhatheistalkingabout  6 years ago

First of all CDCR was totally at fault in the Valdivia Case however Terry Davis bashes CDCR knowing that CDCR does not sentence people to jail, the courts do. CDCR just houses them per order of the judges and courts. People also fail to realize that those sentenced to CDCR have not been rehabilitated after years in juvenile hall and county jail. Apparently, the public seems to think that CDCR has some kind of magic wand that they can wave to "fix" these inmates. Davis also thinks that you can treat these inmates like normal people (ask the parents of Chelsea King what they think) and maybe you can to about 10% if that. The rest of these inmates are animals and have no desire to rehabilitate. People also fail to realize that it is the Board of Parole Hearings and not CDCR (two separate state departments) who returns parolees back to custody. Parole Agents merely do their job and return parolees to custody in accordance with the law and refer them to the BPH. CDCR has no choice but to follow the law. Politicians both republican and democrat and the courts need to enact legislation to changes what's broken in the State's courts and prison system and stop blaming CDCR for everything.

tim-tim profile image

tim-tim 6 years ago from Normal, Illinois

Who isn't broke anymore? It is not only CA., it is everywhere else. I don't follow the politics but it doesn't take a lot of brains to figure out why everyone is broke here and everywhere else. Something needs to be done and it takes more you and me to do that, LOL.

a2z50 profile image

a2z50 6 years ago

Great Stuff you bring out here . I'm from Illinois,And just released was that Illinois per capita is in worse financial shape that Califiornia. One thing for sure , Nothing gets accomplished if our representatvies in Washington only argue Republican Vs. Democrate! Anywaz, Good Hub.Thank You!


As Always Also Rprcarz50 Keep on Hubbing! also here

Pachuca213 7 years ago

And I agree with you 100% about the welfare system Terry...I wrote several hubs on these issues (welfare, jailbird life and how it affects the younger generation)...

Pachuca213 7 years ago

The really sad thing is that with all the money they bring in they never really make any earnest effort to really help the inmates. Its all show. sincere inmates attempts to do anything productive "behind the walls" is always railroaded pushing them to the edge. Its like they enjoy making the inmates snap so they will commit more crimes and keep the cycle going round and round. Corrupt indeed. It is sad how they treat all the inmates and yet the Corrections Dept itself gets so much money per inmate it sickens me.

Pete 7 years ago All signs point to yes.

Pete 7 years ago All signs point to yes.

TB 7 years ago

Sounds like DR Scott has personal knowledge of the goings on behind the wall. Too bad he did not take the time to learn how to spell while he was there.

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 7 years ago Author

Dr. Scott,

Thank you for your comment. Before people are committed to the Department of Corrections they usually have an extensive record of criminal conduct, have been through numerous programs and continue their criminal activity. However, extremely violent people with violent crimes may not have an extensive criminal history. A majority of the inmates that I had contact with have several factors in common, they failed to complete their education and see it as too much work and not fun. Even while in prison, they would rather hang out in the yard with their friends than go to school and get a GED. It is eaiser for them to be taken care of by society then to clime out of the hole they created on their own.

With that said, I do agree with you on the fact that when these individuals first start their criminal activity we simply turn them over to a county probation department and run them through the system. I would like to see judges use punishments that would not creat a criminal record, but teach them something. Example, when I was young many moons ago, a friend and I were throwing eggs at cars as the drove down the street. As my luck would have it I egged a Deputy Sheriffs car. He caught us, handcuffed us, put us in the back of his partol vehicle, and drove to our home. Contacted our parents, which resulted in a spanking, grounding, and for the next several week-ends we were washing the sheriffs vehicles. This was not fun, the focus was we had committed a crime, our punishment was immediate, and fit the crime. Result, we did not like spankings, being grounded or washing cars, and we never throught of doing it again. Today, kids are ran through the system with no real punishment so their actions do not change. Then they become an adult and still no immediate punishment for their crimes. Until they do something to wind up in prison, but by that time they have developed a criminal life style. I have heard many of them laughing and joking about how scared their victims were and making fun of them, and eventually they do not see their victims as people but as objects to take advantage of.

Regarding costs, it is much more costly to let career criminals out of prison. The make new victims, cost of county jail and court hearings/trials, and cost the local governments 100's of thousands of dollars to put them back into prison.

Before I would recommend a prisoner be released from parole, I asked myself one question. Would I want this person living next door to me and my family. Just a foot note, we also support criminals and their families through the wellfare system, they know it and count on it to help support their criminal lifestyle. Personally, if an able bodied person refuses to work, they shouldn't eat. If their families and friends refuse to support them, why should I.

DR Scott 7 years ago

Its a corrupt system, what is crime , in california if you hit your cat its a misdemeanor..

In california crime is business , california has more prisons per capita than the rest of the world..Why because it gets money from the federal covenment from the people in the prison and jails...Sure criminals should be punished , but there are two many in jails that dont need to be there...they could be out working paying taxes...and doing good for society...but Crime in california is income , whaile police drive brand new police cars and BMW motorcycles.Well we are 23 billion dollars in debt , and burrowing from the federal government...and getting ready to burrow again...500,000 business pulled out of california in 2007 and 2008....its going to be interestion but lets see how it handles this one...

DR Scott 7 years ago

Its a corrupt system, what is crime , in california if you hit your cat its a misdemeanor..

In california crime is business , california has more prisons per capita than the rest of the world..Why because it gets money from the federal covenment from the people in the prison and jails...Sure criminals should be punished , but there are two many in jails that dont need to be there...they could be out working paying taxes...and doing good for society...but Crime in california is income , whaile police drive brand new police cars and BMW motorcycles.Well we are 23 billion dollars in debt , and burrowing from the federal government...and getting ready to burrow again...500,000 business pulled out of california in 2007 and 2008....its going to be interestion but lets see how it handles this one...

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