The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) published changes to the inmate classification system. These new regulations will promote inmate rehabilitation and participation in programs, as well as ensure the safety and security of the public, staff, and other inmates, and reduce recidivism, while ensuring that inmates may continue to be safely incarcerated.

The changes will be applied during an inmate’s annual classification review process. During the annual classification reviews, the inmate’s behavior and programming will be thoroughly considered. The criteria for the regulations are in line with the prison reforms the department has adopted over the past several years, which focus on the programming and rehabilitation of inmates. The new regulations went into effect February 20, 2017 and the new regulation information will be made available for inmates in law libraries at CDCR institutions. The regulations are also posted in the institutions and mailed to inmates that have requested to be on the department’s mailing list for new regulations.

How do these changes promote positive programming?

The classification changes will provide opportunities for an inmate to earn placement in lower security level facilities and reductions in level of custody if they meet very specific conditions.
Historically, an inmate serving a term of life-without-parole (LWOP) was excluded from placement in level II institutions due to a mandatory minimum score that would keep them in a level III or IV prison.

Under the new changes, positively programming inmates sentenced to LWOP would be considered for placement at a level II prison after an intensive case-by-case review. The Level II facilities are secured by lethal electrified fences, and would create space at Level III institutions for inmates who pose greater security risks.
This change is supported by research that shows the vast majority of LWOP inmates are less likely to engage in violent misconduct than inmates sentenced to lengthy determinant terms.

Another change in the new regulations allows an inmate serving a life sentence, (inmates serving life with parole) to earn placement in secure Level I facilities if they meet the following conditions:

  • Have been granted parole but with a parole release date in the future

  • Their most recent parole consideration hearing resulted in no more than a three-year denial by the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH)

  • Their most recent Comprehensive Static Risk Assessment identifies the inmate’s potential risk for future violence as low or moderate

  • A classification committee has reviewed the inmate’s criminal history and determined that the inmate does not currently pose  a violent threat to the safety of the public, staff  and other inmates

  • Not a Public Interest Case

  • Not a sex offender

  • No history of escape

Violent administrative determinant review
The proposed regulations provide additional regulatory authority for CDCR to classify inmates with histories of violence by providing discretion for a classification committee to conduct a case-by-case VIO review for offenses that include violence or a significant potential for violence that are not defined as “violent” pursuant to California Penal Code 667.5(c).  These new regulations now allow for the removal of previously affixed VIO administrative determinates by a classification committee if certain conditions are met after a minimum of 7 years since the last violent offense.

Close Custody

Among other things, the proposed regulations eliminate the separate Close A and Close B custody designations, replacing them with the single designation of Close Custody. “Close Custody” status is reserved for inmates who, due to the length of their sentence or negative in-prison behavior, require more intensive supervision but do not warrant placement in segregated housing.

The proposed Close Custody regulations will permit classification committees greater levels of discretion to grant inmates reductions from Close Custody, incrementally decrease the minimum Close Custody time requirements under some circumstances, and preserve security of the institutions.

Security Threat Group I inmates
The proposed regulations permit the housing of Security Threat Group (STG) I inmates with Minimum Custody on a case-by-case basis only. STG I inmates pose the greatest threats to the safety and security of the institutions and public. STG I inmates include members of prison gangs or similar disruptive groups that CDCR has certified to have a history and propensity for violence and/or influence over subservient STGs.

Minimum Custody inmates may be housed in secure facilities and/or non-secure facilities such as minimum support facilities (MSFs) and conservation camps (for firefighting) in the community.

In order for a validated STG I inmate to be granted Minimum Custody, an Institution Classification Committee must review the totality of the inmate’s case factors and determine that their housing with such a level of custody would not pose a threat to the safety and security of the institution, inmates, staff, and public.

Validated STG I inmates who are not granted Minimum Custody may be housed in secure facilities and participate in rehabilitative programs, which will most likely reduce their chances of reoffending.

Inmates get annual reviews by Correctional Counselors starting the date they enter CDCR. They are an assessment of the inmate’s time in prison, including behavior.

These new regulations will promote inmate rehabilitation and participation in programs, as well as ensure the safety and security of the public, staff, and other inmates, and reduce recidivism, while ensuring that inmates may continue to be safely incarcerated.

The criteria for the regulations are in line with the prison reforms the department has adopted over the past several years, which focus on the programming and rehabilitation of inmates.

PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD
Any person may submit written comments about the proposed regulations to the following:


California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Regulation and Policy Management Branch (RPMB)
P.O. Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001


Comments may also be submitted by fax to (916) 324-6075 or by e-mail to
RPMB@cdcr.ca.gov

All written comments must be received by the close of the public comment period April 14, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.

PUBLIC HEARING INFORMATION
A public hearing regarding the proposed regulations will be held April 14, 2017, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in the Kern room, located at 1515 S Street, North Building, Sacramento, CA 95811.

The purpose of the hearing is to receive oral comments about this action. It is not a forum to debate the proposed regulations. No decision regarding the permanent adoption of these regulations will be rendered at this hearing. Written or facsimile comments submitted during the prescribed comment period are given the same significance and weight as oral comments presented at the hearing. This hearing site is accessible to the mobility impaired.

CONTACT PERSON
Inmates or their family members may submit offender inquiries to institution correctional counselor staff. Public comments regarding the Classification and Discipline regulations should be directed to Correctional Counselor III, K. Henderson, Classification Services Unit, (916) 327-8987 or by email at RPMB@cdcr.ca.gov

Members of the public may also view the proposed Classification and Discipline regulations online by visiting the following link:

NCR 17-01 Inmate Classification and Discipline


For information or assistance concerning CDCR, please contact the Office of External Affairs at (916) 445-4950 or by email at
Cal_Externalaffairs@cdcr.ca.gov