For over a year, inmate Richard Gilliam has regularly sent us dispatches from prison as part of our Dispatches from the Inside series, to give us a lens into the prison infrastructure housing about 120,000 people in California. During this time, Gilliam has told us about the arbitrary nature of enforcement of the rules, race relations, and watching a cell mate wait too long for critical health care.
As a prisoner, I am often reminded that the CDCR requires me to follow its rules. That’s understandable, rules and regulations ensure that operations run safely and smoothly. When an inmate can’t or won’t follow the rules, negative consequences are triggered to urge him or her to do so in the future. But what happens when the CDCR doesn’t follow its own rules? Where are the negative consequences to them? Apparently there are none. But there are negative consequences to inmates, and to the community, when the Department of Corrections can’t follow its own rules. Let me explain.