California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

KALW's Nancy Mullane spent the last year touring the most secure prisons in California, including death row at San Quentin, the Protective Housing Unit at Corcoran, and Pelican Bay State Prison. 

She sat down with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) deputy secretary Terry Thornton to discuss why these stories aren’t told more often.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Richard Gilliam is incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison. 

Schadenfreude: To take delight or pleasure in another's discomfort or pain.

With imminent budget cuts, pay decreases, and layoffs looming for the California Department of Corrections, there has been a noticeable increase in harassment and vexatious behavior by some prison guards towards prisoners under their authority.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Richard Gilliam is incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison. 

May 2, 2012

The Argument in Favor of Re-implementation and Expansion of a Correctional Re-entry Program

Thirty years ago, the state spent three percent of its general fund dollars on corrections and prisons. Today it spends more than 11 percent – that’s $10 billion running the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 

In 2011, when Governor Brown took office, he inherited a massive corrections problem. The state's 33 prisons were at nearly 200 percent capacity, and the recidivism rate was running at 70 percent. The federal courts stepped in and ordered California to reduce its overcrowded prisons by more than 30,000 people.

Dan4th Nicholas

As with much conventional wisdom on crime and punishment, popular notions of what actually causes recidivism--people cycling repeatedly in and out of prison--don't hold up when you look at the statistics. California's latest report analyzing its notoriously high (currently 65 percent) recidivism rate contains an array of numerical nuggets that shed new light on the cycle of crime. A sampling:

Joe Mud

Yesterday, officials from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation travelled to Chowchilla in the Central Valley to talk to locals about the pending conversion of Valley State Prison for Women into a men’s facility. Chowchilla, the closest town to two of the state’s three women’s prisons, has resisted the conversion, worried about the impact of bringing in thousands of male prisoners.

Rachel Towne

The previous year was a huge one for criminal justice in California, and 2012 promises to be just as dramatic. This year we’ll see the continued fallout of California’s prison overcrowding crisis, which coupled with the state’s financial crisis, is opening the doors to reforms never thought possible in our state. Here are three big issues to watch this coming year. Capital punishment A piece in Time Magazine today suggests that capital punishment is “slowly dying” in the United States.

The state came close to meeting its first court-imposed benchmark for reducing the prison population last week. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, readying its January 10 report to the federal court in the Northern District of California, announced it’s currently operating at 169.2 percent of its designed capacity. That number nearly hits the 167-percent figure the court demanded California meet by December 27, 2011.

In 2012, a big shift will hit California’s electoral system: open primaries. Open primaries, brought in by voters through 2010′s Proposition 14, will allow the top two vote-getters in any primary for state office to advance to the general election, which means we could see districts with two Republicans or two Democrats competing in a general election.